The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
May 6, 2024
Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

Grinnell students blog as outlet for rants, awards, thoughts

In the heyday of Nickolodeon ’90s television, the show “Are You Afraid of the Dark” scared kids across the country. In her blog, Rachel Fields ’09 takes a retrospective look at this once-terrifying series and points out every flaw, plot-hole, and absurdity that the show has to offer. “Have you seen the one with Tia and Tamara when they turn into chameleons? I mean, what? They turn into freaking chameleons,” Fields said.

The blog, titled, “I call this story: The Tale of the Gaping Plothole,” was created over the summer of 2008, after Fields had spent time reading a blog of a similar nature. “There was a period of my life when I had a lot of free time. And I was slightly obsessed with this Goosebumps review blog,” Fields said. “The author of that blog wrote synopses and they were funny so I decided I wanted to do something like that.”

Though Fields had originally planned to also post about literature— contemplating a site about the children’s series The Boxcar Children—she eventually settled on “Are You Afraid of the Dark” and was able to watch many of the episodes on YouTube.

Despite its auspicious beginnings, Fields eventually abandoned the blog. ”I stopped because I realized my posts were like 20 pages long and I figured it was totally like a waste because maybe nobody was reading it,” Fields said.

Since then, Fields has continued to think up other blog sites; she once thought to create a blog about middle school motivational posters. “In my math class there was this poster where there was a monkey in a jail cell and it said, ‘We all make mistakes.’ And I was like. . . so we all make mistakes and then we go to jail?” said Fields. “This monkey is in jail. Can he get on parole? It’s very troubling.” This blog never came to fruition as a result of the lack of available images.

Currently, Fields has a blog directed towards poetry. The blog consists of some of Fields’ favorite poems, and poetry that her friends enjoy as well. “I think a lot of people are scared of poetry, so I thought if there was just a way to wade through the bad stuff and go straight to the good, people would like it more,” Fields said. “So I’m doing that. I seek to bring joy”

Mallory Inman ’09

Mallory Inman ’09 first started blogging when she and friend Sidonie Straughn-Morse ’08 spent the summer of 2007 in Grinnell. Their collaborative blog, “Iowa Summer” began as just a fun side project.
“We just blogged about little things, like things we cooked or things we made,” Inman said.

But when the summer ended, Inman went to study abroad in Germany and Straughn-Morse went to Poland. The two wanted to keep in touch, so they made a joint blog chronicling their time abroad. “We were sad about the first blog ending, but we weren’t in Iowa, and it wasn’t summer,” Inman said. “ So we started a new project.”

This new project, “Making Places,” was created so Inman and Straughn-Morse could keep in touch with each other outside of Grinnell. “We both wanted to share what we were doing with each other so that how the travel blog was started,” Inman said.

Inman’s and Straughn-Morse’s posts range from what sort of exotic dish Straughn-Morse ate in Warsaw to Inman’s pictures of everyday life in Germany.

“My favorite part of [Making Places] is getting the chance to think about little events and moments in my life in a way I wouldn’t otherwise,” Inman said.

“Making Places” sparked other blogs for Inman, such as her own personal blog, “Poems About Onions” and one about vegan dishes, “Palace Eats”.

“Poems About Onions,” is a random post blog where she posts random pictures, recipes, or reflections on her day. “Palace Eats” is a new blog where Inman and her other housemates document the vegan food dishes they prepare.

”[Blogging] is a really cool medium that you can shape to what you want it to be,” Inman said.

Andrew Walsh ’09
“Who or what has been the most ticklish this week? It could be you!”
This is the tagline to the blog of Andrew Walsh ’09. His blog, “Tickle City,” is a less conventional approach to blogging. “I started it last spring as a result of friends with blogs,” Walsh said. “But I didn’t want to do a mundane journal-entry style blog.”

Instead, Walsh bequeaths an award to one deserving entity. “Every award winner gets the phrase, ‘ _____, you are Tickle City!’ at the end of their post,” Walsh said. “It’s the blog’s trademark.”

Walsh has helpfully listed the Webster’s definition of the words “tickle” and “city” on a sidebar on the blog, but the use of the two words together originated colloquially with Walsh and his friends. “It’s definitely a favorable thing. Like exciting, agreeable, ticklish,” Walsh said. “It’s an actual definition of the world tickle, but it’s a pretty obscure definition.”

As it’s an obscure definition, it makes sense that no specific category is applied to who or what is “Tickle City.” Currently in week 22, “Tickle City” has given out awards varying from the Carmel United U23 Soccer Team to David Arseneault ’09. “It started being Grinnell-specific, but I tried to make it less that way,” Walsh said.

In an effort to expand the scope of his blog, Walsh wrote about an experience he had over the summer at the Iowa Irish Fest. “A lot of my friends went to Lollapalooza but I went to the Irish Fest and it was like $5 and I had a great time,” Walsh said. “I posted about it on Tickle City and it got a bunch of comments from people outside of the Grinnell community, so it’s reaching a more widespread audience.”

Walsh has also used “Tickle City” as an outlet for more serious discourse. A recent post grew out of a paper Walsh had written about the One Laptop Per Child initiative. After posting his research on “Tickle City,” he received a lot of feedback, and was contacted by Director of Media Relations Cindy Deppe about the post.

“I used [Tickle City] to get out my paper in a less formal setting,” Walsh said. “Had it not been for Tickle City, it probably would have just slipped through the cracks.”

Erik Simpson, English
Erik Simpson, English, has a PhD from an Ivy League University and a published book analyzing the literary significance of poets. Now, Simpson can add active blogger to his long list of accomplishments.

Simpson first started blogging on GrinnellPlans, but then realized he was putting a lot of effort into his posts. He decided to create a blog site separate from GrinnellPlans in order to allow for greater organization and the ability to refer back to old posts at a later date. In Simpson’s six different blogs, his topics range from musings on literature to his young son Pete’s drawings.

In his blog, Underlying Logic, Simpson discusses everyday life and random thoughts. For example, one day he expressed his opinions on Senator Joe Lieberman—the next he writes about his kitchenware.

Two out of six of Simpson’s blogs include his son. “Studio 916: The Art of Peter Simpson” is a collection of Peter Simpson’s drawings, which include Erik Simpson’s in-depth analysis of his son’s work. In the other blog, “Pete Potato,” Simpson tells stories about his son. In the most recent post, Simpson convinces his son that smoke detectors are supposed to help the family.

For Simpson, blogging about his son is not only a way to show his family what Pete has done, but is also used for his son to look back on, like his parents did when he was younger. “My own grandparents gave me their little notes and anecdotes from when I was a kid. When I turned 21, I think, I was really touched by that, so I imagine being able to give my son the same thing,“ Simpson said.

To Simpson, blogging moves beyond just the storage of memories and ideas; it facilitates the communication of ideas and thoughts at an increasingly rapid speed. “When I write something in a blog, I’m trying to participate in a really new public conversation among people who are thinking seriously, out loud, in public, about issues that they might have talked about by phone or by letter in the past,” Simpson said.

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