Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Marmot Snarls and Finally Speaks

Springfield's gregarious burrowing rodent friend has been interviewing the crew of local bloggers lately. I thought it best that we learn a bit about this bucktoothed yokel. I set my trap and sure enough, I caught myself a marmot. Here's what I learned.

Titles/Name of Author:
Amy Sholtis, Snarling Marmot

Why Snarling Marmot? Where did that name come from?
I find myself explaining that one a lot. In fact, I was just commenting to another reader that friends and family have stopped calling me Amy in favor of Marmot.

The name came about when I worked at PBS and was housed in a cube farm, for lack of a better term. We had these odd half-walls with shelves that were about four feet tall. If someone was standing outside my cube, I generally had to stand up to talk to them. I had a habit of popping up for a conversation quite a bit and one day a co-worker remarked that I looked like a marmot popping out of a hole. It stuck. The snarling part comes from my penchant for being a twee surly prior to my first cup of coffee ... my one true vice.

Estimated hits per day: 150 to 500 depending on what search engine has picked me up

Geographic location: Springfield, MO, my hometown

Age Range: 30 something

How long has your main blog been around? I started blogging in 2000, the home of the Marmot has been around since 2004, prior to the current site it was housed on Typepad. There were previous iterations on both LiveJournal and Blogger.

Why did you start it? I have a compulsive need to natter away about stuff.

Tell us about your slow cooker blog?
Poor neglected "What A Crock." I started that blog to spread the good word about slow cooking. It was a great project when it was cold and I had lots of reasons to be using the slow cooker … oh, that and I was unemployed at the time so I had lots of time to look up recipes. Now that I have both a real job and numerous volunteer responsibilities (I volunteer with APO as well as work on Street Talk) I've been neglectful of my cooking hobby. I hope to get back to it. Look for it to become part of a larger feature on my regular blog.

What role does blogging play in your everyday life?
Writing helps me process my thoughts. I think the blog is just a public place to do that. There are lots of things I want to either share or opine on and I like the public forum of the blog because it gives others a chance to chime in as well.

Do you consider yourself a blogger, citizen journalist, online diarist or storyteller?
All of the above, although more of a storyteller I think. The posts I like to write most are the ones where I get to tell an entertaining story. Sharing information is great and it's a nice by-product of the blog, but mostly I just wanna chat with y'all. I have a great group of people who visit my little corner of the web. We don't always agree on everything, but I enjoy hearing from everyone. I've also really enjoyed profiling all y'all. I was truly impressed by the group of bloggers here in Springfield when I moved here. Despite our differences, we can still break bread together and all seem to geniunely get a along. 

How does your journalism background affect your blogging?
It probably drives me. I got used to having to produce some form of copy every day so now I still have the need to write about something, anything. I practically grew up in a newsroom. Some of my earliest memories are hanging around Dad's desk at the News-Leader. Ron teases me about it being in my blood, and perhaps it is a compulsion with me. I will always be a news junkie and I think a by-product of that is wanting to share news with others.

How do you think blogging can effect a community? A country?
There's been a lot of people wringing their hands about this. The blogosphere certainly has begun playing a larger role in both politics and the media. Pols look at blogs to see where public sentiment lies. The media is kind of rueful of the bloggers because they have a tendency to point out their faults. However, bloggers have big faults too. Especially with a lot of the political blogs, the bloggers have an agenda they want to push. That's fine and that can be useful, but people need to understand that they aren't necessarily getting the full picture. They USED to be able to get it from the mainstream media but that's not so much the case any more. Unfortunately, the American press has become far too cowed by big business and the government. That's where bloggers can do a service to their communities, they can step in where regular journos are failing. Whether or not they're really up to that task remains to be seen.

What responsibilities do bloggers have to our community?
You have to make yourself credible. Admit when you're wrong. Admit to having an opinion and that often what you're writing is opinion. Just because I type it doesn't make it fact ... it makes it my thoughts, and my thoughts maybe based in fact, but they are after all my thoughts and opinions and should be viewed and understood as such. My gospel truth and your gospel truth may fork at the river, son and that's okay.

What defines the blogger?s community? What do those boundaries look like?
Well, there's bloggers as a whole, but then there's communities within that community. There are political bloggers, food bloggers, music bloggers ... you get my point. I think the boundaries are fluid actually, anyone who has a blog, and regularly posts to it, is a blogger. I'm a member of the local bloggers community, but I'm also a member of those other communities within the topics I post about.

How does it feel to have the interview turned toward you?
Humbling. Granted, I can fall back on the excuse that I've been taking my time because of my injured hand, but really these questions make me question myself. Why AM I doing this? Does anyone really care? 

Biggest pet peeve, online or otherwise?
Bad drivers. But I lived for most of my life in a city(Washington, DC) full of bad drivers. When it takes you an hour and a half to go 18 miles you grow to appreciate the minor amount of traffic we have here in Springfield.

What are you favorite blogs or daily online reads?
Of course I try to make it past all the local blogs every day. Y'all help me keep up with the community. Beyond that of course CNN, but I also spend a fair amount of time reading some other fun stuff: Amalah is a woman from DC who is blogging her experiences as being a new mom, she's funnier than anyone has a right to be. Tomato Nation is also some seriously funny stuff. I find PostSecret both fascinating and poignant. My friend Dawn and Tiff also write some great stuff, Tiff has a professional blog that's worth while for anyone who is job seeking. 

I have 10 more questions to ask you from famed Bernard Pinot and made famous by James Lipton on his show “Inside the Actor’s Studio.”

What is your favorite word?
Reading. It also happens to be my favorite pasttime. None of us read enough and books are such a neglected luxury. Yes it's easier to turn on the tube or surf the web and be entertained, but you get to create your own images with a book and I just think that's the coolest. Yes, I'm also aware that makes me a huge nerd. But I'm okay with that. 

What is your least favorite word? Problem.

What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
Creatively, I'd have to say challenges. Specifically, challenges that make me think or reevaluate how I already look at something. I believe we should continue to learn our entire lives. Once we stop learning we may as well stop living. I don't ever want to be thought of as the kind of person rigidly adhered to some outmoded thought or custom. Change, while scary, can be good and cause us to grow.

Spiritually, that's a hard question to answer. I've never been an overly religious person, but I definitely have a spiritual side. I identify as Buddhist. I study Buddhism and go to meditation each week. I find it helps to calm me and help me to be more focused. I also feel connected to the ideals within Buddhism that implore us to treat each other with respect and kindness. I think that's something that is far too lacking in our lives today.

Emotionally, I'd say interacting with smart people who challenge me to think in new ways and explore things I hadn't thought to explore on my own before.

What turns you off? Closed minds.

What is your favorite curse word?
Damn. I use it FAR too much, followed by the s-word. Sadly, the f-bomb also works its way in on occasion as well.

What sound or noise do you love?
Most music. Regardless of what I'm doing, I like to have a little tuneage in the background. It soothes the savage marmot.

What sound or noise do you hate?
The phone ringing at home. I don't mind answering one at work because it means business, but at home it's nearly always someone wanting to sell me something I don't want. Does that make me sound like your 80 year old granny or what? 

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Professional Chef, I want to be Cat Cora when I grow up.

What profession would you not like to do?
Accountant. Math scares me. 

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
"You aren't serious, are you?" My momma used to tell me that Heaven didn't want me and Hell was afraid I'd take over.

Any last thoughts from the rodent perspective?
The blog should be a reflection of who you are not something you hide behind. I'm not suggesting we should post our most intimate secrets and personal information on our blogs, but by the same token, it's yours, make it so. We should have more conversation and less arguments. I visit a lot of blogs where there is a lot of knee-jerking and labeling going on and not much discourse. Don't put something forth unless it advances or adds to the conversation. Shouting matches just make everyone tense, even the shouter.

Thanks for the opportunity to natter on.
Snarlingly yours,

1 comment:

Granny Geek said...

Nice! Good interview, Jack. Big thanks to both of you!