Forward Slash and Burn

This is a reversal. Brick is all about the new. Live in the present, look toward the future. Dwell just a little on what’s past.

But the URL from which it sprang,, has been neglected. Oh, I tell myself, it’s an archive. It works well enough. Fast-loading, a reference for me when I am writing far from my files at home. Perhaps occasional readers of Brick head back there to see earlier work.

Usually I think these old essays get opened because of obscure search keywords people type into Google. As for me when I have reviewed its contents, it looks like a pile of junk. This past spring, however, I dived in, to ensure I wasn’t repeating myself in a new Brick, and saw lots of good writing, good organization and even wit. Amid only a few clunkers.

Logical enough. “Leave well enough alone,” my late Uncle Al Pollock was fond of saying. The website that appears before the forward slash,, is an archive of some five dozen columns I wrote for newspapers, real newspapers. home page 2002-2011The website looks like it was built in 2002, because it was. Pure html code, not a lick of CSS, which was not widespread yet (if not in common use, it wouldn’t work for most people’s computers). No frames or other bells and whistles, though. I always liked a clean look. The yellow legal-pad image indicated my preference for writing longhand. Almost 10 years later, though, and you can almost see the edges curling from rot and smell the mildew.

Facts belie the logic. Analytics indicate all sorts of people go there and open the supposedly greatest hits of  my late ’80s-early ’90s newspaper columns, collectively called Mirthology, and my 1/1999-9/2001 newspaper columns collectively called Loose Leaves.  Plus a few guest columns. These two standing heds indicate my goals, humor in the first and mixed topics for the latter.

Forget all the muckety-mucks I’ve had to deal with and work under for decades:

My copy doesn’t suck.

Maybe if the parlor in which the columns are displayed was spruced up — paint the walls, wash the windows — my morale would improve and I’d write more in Brick.

But my “free time” throughout 2011, until June 26, was too busy for the mindset I need for visual work and coding. I did have a few design ideas, but neither time nor energy to fiddle them up. Then the annual columnists conference — where I played a daily, consuming (though secondary) planning role — adjourned. from 2011The Web rework is done. The curio cabinets and shelving are ready.

Even though my old columns through unbiased eyes — your eyes — surely are uneven, they deserve being seen in a display case, not stuck in a cardboard box on a high, dusty shelf.

Hearing a week ago that cartoonist Vic Harville had retired as cartoonist for Stephens Media as of July 1 was the final impetus to complete the redesign of Mirthology: A Loose Leaflet. Vic illustrated several Mirthology columns, as did John Deering. Cici Davidson drew numerous sketches that ran with the column. After hours of searching, I found many of the original “boards” in an oversize manila envelope in that very box on a truly high, dusty shelf last weekend.

Those works are heading for a scanner and eventual uploading to I want to show off the art of my longtime friends.

Meanwhile, I am working on new columns here in Brick, the website that follows the forward slash of The Mirthologist is proud of the past, but he will not move back there. Onward.



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