30 years of pre-computer blogging

How far can you trace your blog back?  A year?  Two years?  Three?

If I were to count all the newspaper and magazine columns I wrote before I ever got involved in the online observational world, I could convincingly argue that I have been blogging for thirty years.  Of course, those thirty years were in print media, but hey, was anyone really “blogging” in 1980?

As part of a “clear out the junk” phase I’m going through, I recently discovered some of my old newspaper and magazine columns.  Man oh man, my writing’s improved a ton since those old days.  So much so, in fact, that I’m reluctant to share those old columns with you now – it would be too embarrassing.

But, you ask, what was the content of those old columns and articles?  What did I write about?  Well, I can at least share that much with you.  That much I can do.

I would say my first “column” began in 1980, when I wrote articles for my high school newspaper.  That first column, entitled Looking at the Negatives, was a one-page typewritten observation on things that drove me nuts – doctor visits, family hassles, etc.  I also used that column for some early fiction pieces; essentially one of those fiction pieces later appeared in the UAlbany literary magazine Tangent. The Tangent article was a fiction story about how my friend invented a rocket sled, and I got to test it out.  Yeah.  Needed a lot of work.  So did the rocket sled.

I took the Looking at the Negatives column with me when I attended Hamilton College, it ran for a few issues in the college newspaper, The Spectator, and was mostly notable for a fiction piece I wrote called “The Weather Machine,” in which I postulated that Hamilton College operated a weather machine on campus that would provide sunny, sparkly warm days for prospective new students who were touring the campus, and rainy harsh weather for those potential new attendees that the college would rather attended another campus.  Subliminal meteorology, I guess…

By sophomore year, I had retired Looking at the Negatives in favor of 45RPM, a music review column – that column lasted about three years, I wrote it until 1985, when I graduated.  I may have fancied myself as the next Robert Christgau, but I could tell that my opinions did not match up with everyone else’s on campus when it came to music – true story; someone tried to create a computer dating program on campus, and the choices for “favorite type of music” were Pop, R&B, Country, Classical, or “Chuck Miller.”  Haw.

Between 1994 and 1997, I penned a column for Hockey Ink!, the minor league hockey monthly newspaper.  The column, Booster Shots, focused on the activities of hockey’s most dedicated fans.  It was a fun column to write, and I got to meet a lot of booster club members in my time.  Booster Shots was also a way to guarantee that I would have at least one article in Hockey Ink! every issue.  The column ended with Hockey Ink!‘s demise in 1997.

The column with the shortest lifespan, Chuck Miller’s Round Table, appeared in the animation magazine Animato! in 1998.  No, I don’t know what it is with all these magazines and exclamation points after their names.  Chuck Miller’s Round Table was based on the old Steve Allen TV series “Meeting of Minds,” in which Allen would have a round-table discussion with various historical figures.  I tried the same tactic – my first “round table” featured a conversation with three figures from the world of animation – Speed Racer, Boo Boo Bear, and Jem of the Holograms.  It was a funny and entertaining column, and had Animato! actually lasted past the issue in which the column debuted, it would have been a great long-running series – the next edition would have featured a “round table” whose guests included Popeye the Sailor, Eric Cartman and one of the Knight Sabers from Bubblegum Crisis.  I may revive the concept here in the blog some day, we shall see.

I returned to Albany’s sports scene in the mid-1990’s with In the Cheap Seats with Chuck Miller.   This short weekly column appeared in two different Capital Region free papers – The Source (no, not the rap magazine) and CD Sports (no, that’s not a rap magazine either).  That column lasted for about a year between the two publications – it first appeared in CD Sports, which was a monthly local sports anthology newspaper.  When CD Sports shut down, I took the publication to The Source.   Originally, I wanted to call the Source edition of the column “Getting to First Base with Chuck Miller,” but the editor liked my original title for the column, and it stuck.

During my decade with Goldmine magazine, I penned their popular Collectormania! column.  The monthly column featured articles and tips on music and record collecting, as well as stories about the minutiae of the hobby.  Collectormania! was originally created by music journalist Lisa Barker; after about 15 issues she turned it over to Stephen Thompson.  He wrote it for a few years, then after he left Goldmine to write for The Onion, I inherited the column.  During my involvement with Collectormania!, the column became the longest-running original content column in Goldmine‘s history, surpassing a similar column written by the legendary Cub Koda.  And in 2006, as I left Goldmine, I returned the column to Lisa Barker (now Lisa Wheeler), and she wrote it for the final six or seven issues of the column’s existence.

And now I’m here at the Times Union, writing my blog every morning, welcoming you into my life and my world and my existence.  Nice to see you.  Pull up a chair.

And if any of those old columns or publications ever resurface – if any of my old high school or college columns ever see the light of day…

Please understand my youthful embarrassment.  My writing’s grown considerably since that time.