Monday, June 18, 2007

The Thinking Blogger Award

"For there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so."

One of my favorite sites to visit everyday is Dennis Cozzalio’s Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule. Despite not having a clue to what the title means, I love checking in to hear Dennis’ latest thoughts on whatever subject strikes his fancy. His posts are consistently interesting, witty and spark great discussions. Once in a blue moon, Dennis also puts up one of his great movie quizzes that I thoroughly enjoy answering (they always challenge my cinematic knolwedge and remind me how much I still have to learn about movies). Thus, since Dennis’ blog is one of my regular online stops, I was pleased to discover in a recent post that SLIFL had been tagged with a meme (a term which I had never heard, let alone knew the definition for, until this happened) for the “Thinking Blogger Award." That they couldn't have found of a more suitable candidate I think.

As Dennis goes on to explain in the post, receiving the “Thinking Blogger Award” does come with a condition: the recipient must tag five other blogs that he/she feels also deserves the title. It is not unlike the “Pay it Forward" plan that Haley Joel Osment came up with in that awful movie, except that instead of picking three people you pick five. As I was scrolling down the page reading the list of blogs that Dennis selected, I found myself agreeing with him heartily. Campaspe’s Self-Styled Siren (a blog I only recently discovered myself and added to my list of links), Jim Emerson’s Scanners (which, along with another site that I will mention shortly, inspired me to start blogging in the first place), Shamus’ Bad for the Glass (formerly known as That Little Round-Headed Boy) and Kimberly's Cinebeats: Confessions of a Cinephile are all favorites of mine (the only recommendations he made that I wasn't familiar with was Kim Morgan's Movies Filter and Sunset Gun, which I shall now have to check out).

When I got to the bottom of the list, however, I saw a rather familiar-looking image and read the following text:

And I know I’m breaking format, but here's one to grow on: Damian Arlyn’s Windmills of My Mind. Damian is a video store manager in Corvallis, Oregon, and his writing and ambition have really been a pleasure to experience. The two of us can’t agree about certain movies, but Damian has a real seeker’s sensibility about him and an openness to other points of view that is refreshing, even if he can’t be beaten and humiliated into submission and agreement! Damian’s blog is definitely one to watch as the summer progresses, because he’s cooked himself up a doozy of a challenge—he’s giving over the 31 days of August to a career retrospective of his favorite filmmaker, Steven Spielberg, a massive undertaking that should be loads of fun to read and participate in. Windmills has plenty of other goodies to enjoy too, so get to it!

To say I was surprised was an understatement. Dennis has been very kind in recent weeks with his readership and his praise, but I would never have expected to make Dennis’ list of five blogs that he can’t (and won’t) do without. Naturally I was flattered. It’s always nice to discover that a fellow you respect feels the same way about you. It is also, however, a little intimidating because it makes you feel all the more responsible for what you are doing with your blog. Of course I’m honored to receive the “Thinking Blogger Award.” In the eight months since I began this "journey" I’ve always wanted Windmills of My Mind to be an honest and genuine expression of my own personality, but have also tried to keep it interesting, accessible and, not least important of all, thought-provoking. I’ve learned a lot about myself, about movies and about internet communication. I certainly have a lot left to learn but this experience has been a most gratifying one and this Award in many ways feels like a validation of all the effort I’ve put into this endeavor. What makes this particular incident satisfying is that I now have a chance to give something back.

There are three rules for participating:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,
3. Optional: Proudly display the "Thinking Blogger Award" with a link to the post that you wrote

So, here are five blogs that have helped to stimulate my thinking in this ongoing process of blogging:

1. PilgrimAkimbo – I’ve always maintained that when I was in college my friend and housemate Tucker Teague opened my eyes to a whole world of movies I wouldn't have known about otherwise, but it has turned out to be a very pleasant, and most welcome, development that I continue to learn from Tucker via his blog PilgrimAkimbo (begun around the same time that I began mine). Tucker is easily the most knowledgable individual about cinema that I’ve met. I like to say that he’s “forgotten more about movies than I’ll ever know," but what makes his blog a fascinating read is that he deals with very real and very profound issues of life as well as art. In addition to movies, Tucker writes about his family, his job, poetry and other topics that he finds significant. Yet the blog, like the man himself, always has an air of humility, restraint and contemplation about it that are quite compelling. Tucker’s ideas are a constant challenge to me personally and I am more than happy to share them with others so that they too, hopefully, can have an experience similar to mine. I've known Tucker for over 12 years now and I don’t get to see him nearly as much as I would like to, but I am glad we’ve had the opportunity to continue our friendship, as well as our cinematic educations, here on the film blogosphere.

2. The Cinematic Art – Although, like myself, Ted Pigeon has been blogging for only a short period of time, he’s already established himself as a formidable presence in the blogging community (earning what I consider to be the “Holy Grail” of linkage; a place in the sidebar of Jim Emerson’s Scanners) with his excellent blog The Cinematic Art and he has achieved it through the sheer sagacity of his ideas and the stark lucidity of his writing. Ted may be six years my junior but he’s already a better writer than I’ll ever be. As a Phildelphia editor and professional film student with a background in communications studies, Ted is engaging in some of the most astute, in-depth and eloquent analysis of the audio/visual medium that I’ve ever seen (either online or in print). His recent piece on Jaws is so good that it almost makes my writing about it for "31 Days of Spielberg" unnecessary. If you haven't yet checked out his blog I highly recommend doing so. Just make sure you bring your brain with you because you'll need it.

3. Like Anna Karina's Sweater - For months now I've labored under the impression that Filmbrain's blog Like Anna Karina's Sweater was run by a woman (until someone, thankfully, set me straight on that point). Why I thought that I have no idea. Perhaps it was the name of the blog or the image of that lovely woman with her hand on her chin that first steered my mind in that direction. I honestly don't know, but what kept me coming back to the site was not the gender of its host but the caliber of its content. Filmbrain is one of the most intelligent, passionate and lucid film bloggers that I've ever read. In addition to sharp, spirited writing about subjects such as the misogynist tendencies of filmmakers like Eli Roth and Quinten Tarantino, Filmbrain gets my "film brain" going at least once a week with his wonderful Screen Capture Quizzes (which I only occasionally know the answers too). His site is a true delight and if you haven't yet checked it out, I highly recommend you do so quite soon.

4. No More Marriages! - I doubt that any serious film blogger needs me to describe this particular site, but in addition to Jim Emerson's Scanners, Andy Horbal's No More Marriages (a blog which derives its name from my all-time favorite play) can be credited, or perhaps blamed, for making me a blogger. Back in September, Andy did a survey wherein he asked people to name the greatest American film made in the last 25 years. I chimed in with my own pick (Schindler's List) and through the process discovered a whole online community of smart, educated people who loved movies and loved talking about them. As I continued to learn more about the plethora of film blogs out there, Andy's site served as a sort of "home base" for my exploration. I saw it essetially as the HQ of the film blogosphere. Andy's posts were always fun, intellectual and informative (not only about movies but also about topics like sports and cooking). Andy also happens to be the most outspoken apprectiator of the art of film criticism I know (a subject that, I am ashamed to admit, I have neglected for too long) and the most thoughtful advocate of the responsibilities of blogging I think is out there. I'm almost sure that Andy has already been tagged with this meme but I couldn't possibly, in good conscience, mention the phrase "Thinking Blogger" without drawing attention to this individual who is a giant in that regard. Alas, Andy's blogging has been sorely missed for the past several months as he has been in a period of personal and professional transition. Andy's been been working on a new blog (to be unveiled on July 1st) entitled Mirror/Stage which he promises will be rather different in tone and intent from No More Marriages! Well, different is okay with me as long as it retains that amazing intellect and unapologetic zeal for cinema that made No More Marriages one of the premiere films blogs on the internet. In other words, all it needs is that "Andy Horbal feeling" and I'll be satisfied (actually I guess we all have that "Andy Horbal feeling," but since he's Andy Horbal, I'm assuming he has it in Spades).

5. Lazy Eye Theatre - The thing I love most about Piper's Lazy Eye Theatre is the straightforward, down-to-earth, no-nonsense tenor of its writing. While Piper's unashamed love for all things filmic comes through loud and clear in his blog, he does not corrupt his opinions with condescending, elitist attitudes or feel the need to "dress up" his ideas with empty, pesudo-intellectual jargon. Piper's writing is smart and confident but it is also extremely accessible. There is a simplicity and economy to Piper's posts, a sort of noble "everyman" quality, that is quite refreshing. This is not to suggest that Piper doesn't provoke thought on the part of the reader because he absolutely does. He just doesn't mince words. If Piper feels strongly about something, he will let us all know in no uncertain terms. And yet, throughout it all, Piper manages to maintain a humble and conscientious personality at the same time that he writes about whatever he damn well pleases. Piper's a true original and stopping in at his blog is always a highlight of my day.

So, there you have it. Five blogs without whom Windmills wouldn't be the blog that it is and five bloggers without whom I wouldn't be the person I am. Thanks to all of you for being examples of the kind of thinkers I respect and admire. While I'm at it, I would like to extend my gratitude to all of the bloggers whom I have had the opportunity to correspond with throughout this whole experience, all of my readers out there in "virtual land" and a special "thank you" to Dennis for tagging me with this meme in the first place.

I guess That's it. Now I can proudly display the following graphic:


Adam Ross said...

Congratulations on the award (what's the "Christmas Story" line, "a major award!"), and for finding Kim Morgan's sites. You may want to find a comfortable chair for the day you decide to look through Sunset Gun's archives, it's well worth it.

Piper said...


I saw that Dennis had highlighted your blog and thought it very deserving. Congratulations.

Second, thank you for honoring me with the same award. I won't spoil my post by saying anything else other than thank you very much.

And Adam is right about Kim Morgan. She has an unbelievable confidence in her writing.

Moviezzz said...

Congratulations! I read that yesterday and thought it was well deserved.

I think that is one of the great things about these types of awards, they help you find other blogs you may not be aware of.

And have to agree, Kim Morgan has one of the best film blogs on the net. I think it was one of the first film blogs I found a couple years ago, even before I started blogging myself.

cineboy said...

Damian, congrats. I saw you got the award. Well deserved. And thanks for picking me. I only hope I can live up to the award. Now I've got to pick my faves, and they may not be all film blogs. We'll see. I still have to find the time!

Damian said...

Thank you, all. I appreciate the kind words of support and encouragement from you guys. It sounds as if Kim Morgan's site is beloved by all so I am definitely checking it out!

You are welcome for the award, Piper. It is well deserved and I look forward to seeing whom you select in return.

Come on now, Tuck. You must've had some idea that I was gonna pick you when you saw that I got this thing. I know that you don't have nearly as much time as you would like to devote to blogging but I am really interested to see which five sites make you think. You certainly don't have to pick all film blogs (at least, nobody says you did). In fact, knowing you, I'm confident that several of them will not be film blogs... but they'll still be thought-provoking I'm sure.

Ted Pigeon said...

I'm honored that you selected me. It's very flattering and gratifying. If I have the time, I will post something on this thinking blogger award, but with the film music blog-a-thon approaching and many other ideas cooking, I can't promise anything good. I would however like to participate. Anyway, thanks again for the recognition. I'm more than honored.

Bob Turnbull said...

Congrats Damian! I'm a new reader of your blog, but I can see why Dennis chose you. A variety of interesting topics...

I already had three of your picks (3, 4 and 5) listed on my own blogroll and I heartily agree with them all. I'll have to take a look at the other two.

Burbanked said...

I don't chime in here nearly as often as I should, Damian, but when I saw on SLIFR that Dennis had picked you among his five, I was impressed and pleased and excited. Yours is such a fine, well-written site, so full of character and humor and heart. I love coming here as a respite from so many of the other, more nuts-and-bolts sites out there that offer news without insight and criticism without humanity.

And good lord but you've taken on a hell of a task for August. I can't wait.

By the way, your description of Piper's Lazy Eye Theatre is about the most perfect thing I've read in a while. Truly wonderfully stated.

cineboy said...

so now I'm puzzled. For my picks, am I supposed to pick sites that have not been picked before?

Damian said...


Picking your blog was a no-brainer. I'd be interested to hear what sites happen to make you think as well.


Thank you for the kind words. I'm glad you have enjoyed my blog so far and I am pleased that you thought my picks were worthwhile. I highly recommend checking out Tucker's and Ted's blogs.


"Perfect," huh? Wow. I don't know what to say except... thanks. And you're right I have set myself a hell of a task for August, but I wouldn't have it any other way.


I think you could pick whoever you want.

Filmbrain said...

See what happens when I take a break from the blogosphere?

With all the work leading up to Benten Films' first release (LOL) I've had scant time to keep up with my blog reading, and I only just now came across this post.

Very kind words Damian, thank you. I'm honored to have made your list.

Damian said...

You're welcome, Filmbrain. :)

Incidentally, someone else (I forget who) tagged you with the same meme in the meantime. So, apparently I'm not the only one who finds your blog thought-provoking.

Damian said...

Turns out that it was the Siren who also tagged you, Filmbrain, and she has some nice things to say about you as well.

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