Filed under: True Crime tumblr

Downtime

I didn’t intend to put this blog on a brief hiatus, but it kind of happened anyway. I’ve been dealing with a health issue (nothing I can’t handle) and it’s made it difficult for me to do paying work or just plain, everyday blogging.

I have been updating my tumblelogs:

Tumblelogs (also called tumblogs, even tlogs — how you pronounce the last one is a mystery to me) look like a relatively new thing, but they really harken back to what blogging was like when barely anyone even knew what a weblog was — no sidebars, no long-form, magazine-style articles. Just links, brief comments, etc. Matt Drudge has never liked the term blog, but his site is a great example of what blogs once looked like. (I’m surprised I’ve been on the Web long enough to know this. Weird.)

Think of this blog as music composed on staff paper, crafted by hand at the piano, and the tumblelogs as improvisations, riffing. Tumblelogs don’t even have to have comment sections. I chose to add commenting to the Crime Tumblelog, but for the moment I’m leaving it off the RandomLunaticNews log — not too many readers, and they can just e-mail me if they have something to say.

Tumblelogs are ridiculously easy to use, and that’s another reason I’ve been updating those sites — I can do it quickly. I can update from my phone and pretty much as I surf the Web. I’ve just about made the Random Lunatic tlog my main personal, non-crime blog, but I won’t do that with the Crime Tumblelog.

I’ve been able to develop new ideas with the tumblelog format, which has been pleasing, because I’ve had some days recently when I felt like my brain wasn’t working all that well. If you check out the archives of the Crime Tumblelog, you’ll see what I mean — I did a whole series of riffs on mugshots last month. It may have been silly, but I enjoyed the heck out of it. At least one post here on The True Crime Weblog was first created on the Crime Tumblelog. Then I realized it was better suited to this site — I deleted the Tumblelog entry and re-posted it here. I may do that a lot, so if you want to get some idea as to my editorial process, check both.

The pace should pick up here shortly. I’m not considering any changes to this blog’s appearance, but I must admit I’m growing frustrated with the Haloscan commenting system. This is very difficult to deal with, because reader feedback on comment functionality means a lot, and I am fully aware that many readers love Haloscan. It is much more stable than it used to be (I first tried Haloscan years ago, and it was pretty terrible) and very straightforward.

It isn’t half as good as the commenting system that comes bundled with WordPress, though, and that’s caused me some headaches. I hate trolling, and on some blog entries, I get a ton of it. If I continue to get a lot of trolling, I may have to institute a new commenting system that gives me much more control over who can and cannot leave a comment on a post.

I didn’t intend to write this much, so let me just say again that the posting frequency will go back up in the coming days. Thank you, as always, for reading and participating.

Sarah Ellen Procter, Charged with the Murder of Charlotte Whale, 5/28/1888

The Old Bailey, London’s main criminal court, has published all court proceedings between 1674 and 1913 online. True crime historians everywhere have begun to salivate as surely as Pavlov’s dog drooled at the ring of a bell.

I’ve already taken a “found poetry” approach to a few recent posts in the True Crime Tumblelog. This is in no way intended to be frivolous, but a re-structuring of how one might look at a given story. A found poem is all about taking existing text and presenting it in a way that alters the reader’s view of the subject. Where a crime story is concerned, it can be a route to deeper meaning, learning something more profound about the human experience in general.

Just in case you think this is an odd approach coming from a true crime blogger, well, it isn’t. Not from me, at least. My first published work was poetry. Three pieces were published in an anthology of Nashville-area poets who congregated around an iconic downtown establishment for many years (only paid in copies of the book, but that’s par for the course, much of the time). Another poem I wrote 20 years ago was once highlighted in the Poet’s Market by one publisher as an example of precisely the sorts of submissions he wanted from others.

I first published this in the TC Tumblelog, but I felt it was a bit long for that site — I try to keep tumblelog entries brief, in keeping with the format as most people understand it.

Here’s some found poetry from the Old Bailey proceedings referenced in the title of this entry — in keeping with my understanding of the form, I’ve made no alterations to the text short of leaving out some words and punctuation — enjambment sometimes takes the place of punctuation in what you’re about to read…

ELLEN CALLOW:

I knew the deceased, Charlotte Whale,
She lived with me last summer
She arrived that day with the prisoner
I had seen the prisoner before
but did not know much of her

She said she would rather
Be in the same place as Charlotte Whale

HENRY CALLOW:

Half past 8 on the Tuesday morning
my wife came into my room
in cones sequence of what she said

I saw Whale lying on the bed
with her head
very much injured;
she was alive,
lying on her left side
with her face towards the wall
I saw that the skull
had been injured
I at once dressed
went downstairs,
and there
saw the prisoner
sitting on a chair

She said I done it,
I meant doing it;
I owed her a grudge,
I know I shall swing for it

GUILTY of the act charged,
but being insane

To be detained
during Her Majesty’s pleasure.

New Stuff — The True Crime Weblog Board and Tumblr

I wanted to introduce readers to some works in progress. It’s important that I make it clear that the following two features are experiments and not stuff I’ve set in stone. There are several reasons I’m calling them experiments at the moment — one is my own ability to keep up with them, depending on my health and/or professional workload.

Another reason it’s important to note the ‘work in progress’ nature of these sites is reader confusion. Whenever I do something new, there are inevitably a number of people who react with something like panic, or at least confusion. I know this is mostly my fault, but to some degree it’s a problem with people just not liking change.

I have to admit, that’s always confused me, and at first, it annoyed me. Then I realized that for some folks, this site is a daily destination, and when I muck with it, it messes with their groove. That’s a nice thing for a blogger, though — realizing you have regulars.

Anyway, because the sites I’m about to link are experiments, you must NOT consider them new destinations in lieu of reading The True Crime Weblog. If there is ever a new destination where my energies will be focused, I’ll let readers know in no uncertain terms.

You should still come to this site for in-depth treatments of crimes in the news. Especially now, because I’m adding some excellent new contributors.

Okay — the new stuff.

  1. http://truecrimeweblog.freeforums.org/The True Crime Weblog Message Board. I set up this classic forum/message board/what have you with a particular set of readers in mind — those who like to utterly dissect a subject, chew the fat about it, parse each detail. I also think a message board presents a nice opportunity for some folks to do something like blog about a particular issue themselves. Because when you leave a comment on a blog post on any weblog anywhere, you are NOT BLOGGING. A message board, however, can provide a somewhat blog-like environment. I consider forums/boards to be more like a community than a weblog (there are notable exceptions, the left-wing Daily Kos, a weblog, also functions like a chaotic message board). If we keep the board, I can see it morphing into a platform for generating story ideas for this blog, as well as research and discussion. One forum I set up as soon as I got the thing is already fairly active. If interest and membership grows, we’ll add more forums devoted solely to one case. For now, if you want to use it, you need to register. Then, if there is a crime in the news you want to discuss, you can start here. Ideas for permanent forums on the board can be generated from the “general” crime news thread. Any simple questions about the board, you can post ’em in the comments on this entry. I am the admin for the board — I’ve already made a steady, stalwart poster from open threads here about Meredith Kercher, Skeptical Bystander, a moderator.
  2. http://truecrime.tumblr.com/The True Crime Tumblr. Okay, my new true crime tumbleblog is bound to confuse people, because it basically looks just like a blog. A really stripped-down blog. No sidebar. No links to other blogs. But if you really examine tumbleblogs, they aren’t like a classic weblog at all. One key way a tumbleblog may differ from a site like the one you’re reading now is not obvious to the reader at all — tumbleblogs are designed to be published on the fly. I can basically publish links, posts, photos, audio, whatever, as I surf. That’s not the case with the blog you’re reading right now — when I sit down to do something for this blog, or for my professional work at Radar, it’s a project, and my main focus. An in-depth entry can take hours to create. Still, why the tumbleblog? Well, when I realized how easy it is to use, I began using it as a kind of online notepad. What you’ll read there are short, quick takes by me on crimes in the news today, yesterday, whenever. I don’t edit much, and I try to cover a lot. While I try to use a more formal voice when I blog here, you’re getting a straight shot at the True Crime Tumblr. I’ve added a comment function to the tumbleblog as well. Look at the difference between this blog and the tumbleblog as being the difference between a composed piece of music and a riff. I’m just riffing with the tumblr. It’s pretty fun for me as a blogger, incredibly easy to do, and surprisingly non-time-consuming.

If any of the above has confused you, befuddled you, well — don’t worry about it. Just stick with this site. I should note though — if you check out TrueCrimeMagazine.com — the site that now holds all the content from CrimeBlog.US — you will see that the main page is a feed-through of the True Crime Tumblr. To find entries you’ve read in the past at True Crime Magazine, just use that site’s search page, which is powered by Google. Everything that was on CrimeBlog.US is still there, as is the content I’ve added since I changed URLs.