Friday, September 07, 2007

Blogger Interviews: Orson Swindle

We're running a segment here at The Big Picture where we'll interview some of the biggest names in the sports blogosphere. What's the point? Well, these guys spend countless, thankless hours writing, so a little recognition from time to time is well warranted. Think of this as the blogger's version of a reach-around or something.

Up today is the man behind the brilliant Every Day Should Be Saturday and Das Fanhaus, Orson Swindle. EDSBS is perhaps the pinnacle of all things college football, so with the season fresh in our minds, Orson is the perfect guy to be talking to. Think of the comments as the goalpoasts at Appalachian State's Kidd Brewer Stadium: tear those motherfuckers down.

1. The rundown:

Name: Orson Swindle. That's not our real name of course. We were never in Vietnam, or a member of the Federal Trade Commission. Then again, the real Orson Swindle never interviewed Phil Steele.
Age: 31
Location: Atlanta, GA
Occupation: Never. We bow to no one, not even the dastardly Spaniards. Oh, you mean a job? Now that's nothing anyone wants to hear about, is it? Work? You might as well ask about my bowel movements...which if you're wondering, dwarf yours 24/7, of course.
Favorite team: Florida Gators.
Links to your favorite all-time posts you've written. (3-5)
We're fond of this one. And this one. Few other people are, sure -- but we like them.
Time per day spent blogging and perusing the blogosphere: a Shit-ton, a metric unit equal to somewhere between two hours and twenty of the day.

2. With EDSBS, EDSBS Live and the newly launched Das FanHaus, you must be a busy man. Take us through a typical day of blogging.

I wake up around six and spend around an hour dredging up everything I think might be relevant, usually missing somewhere around 40 percent of the things I should be writing about while inevitably picking on some poor copy editor's headline gaffe, digging up fart jokes, or making cheap double-entendres involving football and sodomy.

If something gets written that's halfway decent, it's likely that it was written between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. Then I go to work, squeeze in other stuff during the day, and tharr you go, sailor. The garbage scow makes its way around the cape once again.

3. One of the things that impresses us most about EDSBS is that it's a narrow focus, blogging solely about college football. Isn't it hard -- especially during the dreadfully long off-season -- to come up with enough material to keep readers entertained? Any secrets you have to finding content on painfully slow news days?

Not particularly. With 117 teams, it presents a very daunting task to pay attention to everything. In fact, you could spend most of the offseason simply recapping every team's year, previewing the coming year, and paying attention to spring practice.

As far as a narrow focus, constraints can force you to be very, very creative. The hard thing is creating a sports blog without a particular focus, which is nigh impossible. It's counterintuitive, but most successful sports blogs focus on a single sport. (Deadspin: large, large exception.)

That would be boring, but it could be done. We prefer to just take tangents until they snap, especially on the smallest details of a piece. That will go a long way in the offseason. Having an extremely messy and immature brain seems to help, too, in the content creation department.

On slow news days, just troll message boards. There's enough insanity out there to keep everyone occupied for years.

4. You just roll out of bed one morning in February, 2005 and realized that starting a CFB blog was the quickest way to get some panties to drop? Or was the creation of EDSBS a more thought-out process?

It was the creation of being extremely depressed, underemployed, and starved for football. Absolutely no thought went into its creation, and little thought has gone into its growth. It's somewhere between a tumor and baby: it's growing, eating up resources, and not paying it portion of the rent while macking all the peanut butter from the fridge. And hand it the keys and give it gas money, either out of love or fear it will leave you.

5. EDSBS gets a great readership now. The content speaks for itself, but it needs to get out there somehow -- especially at first. How'd the initial promotion of the site go? Message boards? Email strings? And a piece of advice, if you will, for some smaller sites how to build a steady, interactive readership?

We got an RSS reader and subscribed to other people's blogs -- participating in that seemed to push things. (Can't remember if we did the "Hey, got this other awesome thing over at my blog" shit in comments, either. If we did, we apologize, because that shit is annoying with a capital "asshole.")

Other than that, we just posted every day and kept posting without really thinking too much about what we were doing, which should be obvious to anyone who's caught our thousand misnomers for players, factual errors, or bad formatting. The best answer is to socialize with other bloggers and fans without "networking" consciously. Networkers come off as lizards in peoplesuits. People can see the zippers.

6. Dream job? Go.

EDSBS, we suppose. Other possibilities would include demolitions engineer, 40s pinup photographer, and to be the keeper of Urban Meyer's magical motivational taser.

7. There are all sorts of wonderful blogs out there. A few you'd recommend?

The best college football blogger is Matt Hinton, a.k.a. Sunday Morning Quarterback. Brian from MGoBlog's Upon Further Review makes detail-oriented seem like a vague phrase -- we shudder to think of the cold, well-swept cubicles in his vast, powerful mind. The Wizard of Odds is the speed demon among college football bloggers -- the bastard posts at like 2 a.m. and beats everyone else off the wires with his encyclopedic news blog. His is an indispensable blog. Fanblogs and College Football Resource are other big, link-heavy news buffets. Blue Gray Sky has a staff of surgeons working on the ever-recovering patient that is Notre Dame football.

Other ones are less data-driven, but just contain awe-inspiring creativity and writing. BearMeat is the greatest blog devoted to an abysmal team. Rocky Top Talk is, despite being about the team we hate with the fire of six-hundred hell-hot hellholes the Tennessee Volunteers, boundlessly creative and erudite. Peter stomps Texas football flat at Burnt Orange Nation. Michael at Braves and Birds is relentlessly skeptical about not just football, but also about baseball and other sports that don't matter like basketball and any sport not named "football." Fire Mark May and House Rock Built though not daily still make the EDSBS bunker ring with laughter and its natural cohort, random gunfire.

8. Most rewarding parts of blogging? Most frustrating?

The interaction with readers. The fact that you can't sit at your desk and do it all day long.

9. You guys have had some fun with certain people and topics. Ed Orgeron, Houston Nutt, Dennis Erickson, and the Illinois football program all come to mind. Any specific story or person that you just can't resist blogging about? And are there any reoccurring stories that you'd deem your favorite?

This begins and ends with Ed Orgeron. The reason you can mock him is the fact that beneath the baby-eating, pit-fighting, Cajun monsterman myth is a shred of truth. He's one of the few guys who trumps any story you can concoct about him with something that actually happened. The day he leaves the SEC we will weep gusty tears of sadness. And then, he will hunt us down and turn us into boudin.

10. What's the ultimate goal of your site/your writing?

The same as masturbation, of course: to keep doing it every day without chafing.

11. This might be a loaded question, but, in your opinion, what's the future of sports blogs? Enlighten us.

I have no idea.

12. College football is here! Our Huskies aren't gonna go winless! We don't like predictions, so we won't ask for them. Rather, the BCS treated your Gators well last season, but often creates more heartache than happiness. What are your thoughts on the system? While it's controversial, it always gets people talking, and that's good, right? If you were calling the shots, what would the CFB postseason look like?

The system's terrible, but it's better than it was, which takes it up to "merely shitty." We'd probably just keep it like it is now: a tense medium between the popularity contests of the 70s and the soulless vacuum of a playoff. The soulless vacuum is coming, of course -- but in the meantime, there's controversy, something that does produce a lot of excitement. Then again, so do earthquakes, outbreaks of the Marburg virus, and car bombings.

(Past interviews; also found on right sidebar: Dawizofodds; Matt Ufford; The Mighty MJD; Jamie Mottram; The Big Lead; The Cavalier; Will Leitch; Dan Shanoff; Dan Steinberg; Brooks; Unsilent Majority; J.E. Skeets; Henry Abbott; The Dugout; NFL Adam; Bethlehem Shoals).


Mevs said...

nice work. I love these

Anonymous said...

BCS = Marburg virus
Comment spammers = lizards in peoplesuits

Yeah, that sounds about right. Good stuff, fellas.

Signal to Noise said...

Well done.

Anonymous said...

avoiding chafing can sometimes be problematic.

Anonymous said...

I would disagree, but you know who needs facts?

Anonymous said...

3. One of the things that impresses us most about EDSBS is that it's a narrow focus, blogging solely about college football. Isn't it hard -- especially during the dreadfully long off-season -- to come up with enough material to keep readers entertained? Any secrets you have to finding content on painfully slow news days?

You think blogging solely about college football is hard...try to blog only on sports agent related matters. Every day is the offseason.

twins15 said...

As always excellent stuff!

Anonymous said...

Orson Swindle, that cool breeze of a blogger, wakes at 6:00 AM and starts dreaming up dramatic flair to make his stories readable. I just read his take on the Independence Bowl. As a native Shreveporter who got the H*** out as soon as I graduated HS, I do not argue with the fact that Shreveport is NOT a destination city, nor that it has much to offer in the way of attractions, nor that it must be a bummer to be sent there for a bowl game vs. HI or CA. HOWEVER...cows floating in the Red River?...nice dramatic license! And Shreveport never pandered to the movie industry...the movie industry moved there in desperation after Katrina (if anything, the state of Louisiana panders to the industry with its big tax break, and Shreveport has been the unwitting beneficiary). But, as already noted, who needs facts when flair is standing so temptingly close?

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