9.12.2010

Where Did StinkyLulu go?

Something about tonight feels quite familiar. It's Saturday night, not quite late, but MrStinky's already gone to bed. I'm sitting in my big chair in my study, facing the television as I am wont to do, and I've got my computer in my lap. I feel ready to get on with something.

But what's different about tonight is I'm feeling no pressure. I'm not behind on either watching or timing or screencapping this or that performance. I have no idea whether this is the first or third Saturday of the month, whether this is a long month of Sundays, or whether or not I'm confident in this month's roster of Smackdowners to be on top of things. It's just a Saturday night. No deadline, no pressure...

Because tomorrow's not going to be a Supporting Actress Sunday.

Yet, even though there hasn't been a Supporting Actress Sunday for months, I still feel -- in my bones almost -- that there should be a post in preparation for tomorrow. It's a funny kind of muscle memory. I actually feel it, physically. I should be working on a post. But I'm not.

Because tomorrow's not going to be a Supporting Actress Sunday.

And that fact does make me sad.

It's not that I really miss it. I certainly don't miss the (at minimum) eight hours of work that went into each post. I don't miss the often grinding routine – week upon week upon week plus the smackdown to wrangle – I don't miss that at all. I don't even miss the supporting actressness. Other writing obligations are pulling me all kinds of exciting ways these days and the Supporting Actress Project does in fact continue (albeit on a very different schedule and far away from "public" view).

No, I am sad because I feel like StinkyLulu's Supporting Actress Sundays deserved a better finish than they got. It's like a favorite television program that gets canceled without the courtesy of a final episode. The series was chugging along (although maybe not with sparkle of early episodes) but it seemed like there was more to come and then, poof, all of a sudden “the powers that be” pulled the plug. No group hugs, no retrospective montages, no loose ends tied at last, no slow fade – just gone.

And that fact does make me sad.

Because StinkyLulu's Supporting Actress Sundays deserved better.

Which puts me in a strange position. I am perhaps the series's most diehard fan. Yet I am also "the powers that be" who so abruptly pulled the plug. And it's because I'm caught in the space between that I sometimes get so sad about this. It's not right, and I don't know how to make it right.

See, even if StinkyLulu’s Supporting Actress Sundays mattered to no one else, they did matter to me. Indeed, I have not infrequently proclaimed: "StinkyLulu saved my life." And as over the top as such a statement might sound, it is absolutely true.

Today, I am a writer – a thriving writer who treasures the opportunity to sit and to write. But in the months and years before StinkyLulu's Supporting Actress Sundays began, I was stuck in a soul-crushing writer's block. A big writing project (with big consequences) needed finishing and I found myself incapable of writing a word. And as each blocked day passed, I believed ever more wholeheartedly that I was simply not cut out to be a writer. So, not that long ago, I was a writer who had very nearly stopped writing altogether. A writer who was as frozen and as still as this blog has been these last eight months. A writer who might have remained stuck forever had StinkyLulu's Supporting Actress Sundays not jolted me out of my panic/block/funk and into writing again.

Indeed, StinkyLulu schooled me as a writer in a way no teacher ever did. The weekly routine of composing a performance profile disciplined my process, stripped me of my perfectionist paralysis, and forced me share my work with readers on a regular, ongoing basis. And I had generous readers – smart, funny, inquisitive readers who challenged me each week to do my best to deserve their attention. What’s more, with each week's profile, I developed a sense of technique, even as I simultaneously cultivated an exacting ear for my own writerly voice. And, for the first time, I came to appreciate the sustaining power of writing in community. I loved the dialogue among posts on different blogs and the conversations that would simmer in comments. Plus the sense of community that manifested around the monthly Supporting Actress Smackdowns was an always astonishing thing to be a part of.

So why – if I valued StinkyLulu’s Supporting Actress Sundays so – why did I stop?

In a word? Smackdowns. The very thing that built my sense of purpose and cultivated a broad (though never vast) readership was the thing that killed my passion for the project. See, the Smackdowns were always work – extra formatting and editing with the additional variable of collaborating with an ever-shifting array of contributors. At first it was fun to play hostess. The guests were a hoot and always full of surprises and you never knew who would stop by. (I will forever be grateful for the real world friends I made through the Smackdowns.) Somewhere along the way, though, The Smackdowns stopped being fun for me. I felt compelled to keep them going, because everyone seemed to be having a good time and it seemed like the Smackdowns were what StinkyLulu was best known for. But then, over the period of about half a year, some intermittent “behind the scenes” incidents – in which invited (and uninvited) guests got a little rough with the hostess – started happening with greater frequency (and viciousness). To be sure, I was tired of doing the Smackdown anyway, but dealing with “the haters” (as I came to call them) just took that last bit of wind out of my sails. I felt it coming, and fretted over how I might bring things to an appropriate finish, but then, one day, I just stopped. And couldn't bring myself start again.

And so it came to pass that StinkyLulu – my name for the sense of writerly inspiration that had once rescued me from my darkest writer's block – StinkyLulu was blocked.

In the intervening months, I’ve become often quite sad about the loss of StinkyLulu’s Supporting Actress Sundays in my life. I felt pretty terrible about just letting the blog sit abandoned – with not a word to those readers who might care about what was going on. But then – tonight – something happened that finally stirred me from my maudlin silence.

What happened?

Tonight, I stumbled upon another blog doing the Supporting Actress Smackdown. Doing a year not yet done on StinkyLulu. And doing profiles and inviting people to sign up as Smackdowners. Basically, doing my shtick.

I figured it might happen. Over the last few years, I’ve observed the genre/style of performance profiling I had developed on Supporting Actress Sundays pop up here and there. And with regard to the Supporting Actress Smackdown, I hadn’t done much to preserve my claim to “the property” so I suspected someone might see an opportunity in my neglect and lay claim to the format. (That said, I didn’t expect them to literally lift my hearts – the little heart graphics I created – from my old Smackdowns for use in their knockoff. As a metaphor, it’s just too painful and too obvious.)

But imagining someone else running a Supporting Actress Smackdown and seeing someone actually do it are two totally different things. All this time, I’ve wondered if Supporting Actress Sundays might come back, if one day I might awake with passion renewed and spirit restored. Now, seeing those hearts on someone else’s blog, I suspect I have my final confirmation. To be absolutely clear, I’m not all that concerned that I’ve been ripped off, because – well – it’s the internet and that’s what happens. The other blogger's actions, however, did confirm that the moment has passed. I’ve moved on. You’ve moved on. Even the hearts of the Smackdown have moved on.

So, it’s only right, then, that I let StinkyLulu move on too…

This, then, is the last post you’ll see on this blog.

I have no idea what collaborations StinkyLulu and I will come up with next, nor can I promise you when you’ll see the Supporting Actress Project in its next form, but you can know that I’ll be writing. Something I wager I could not say without the gift of StinkyLulu's Supporting Actress Sundays -- and the generosity of your attention, lovely reader.

Thanks.

It's been quite the journey.

With affection and an undying devotion to actressing at the edges,
StinkyLulu (aka Brian Herrera)

27 comments:

jakey said...

I was just perusing your blog not just 24 hours ago; I had given my father "Gone Baby Gone" for Father's Day and we finally got around to watching it, and I wanted to read your Amy Ryan post and the subsequent 2007 smackdown.

It was a joy and privilege to take part in your smackdowns and blog-a-thons, and I have "met" some terrific writers along the way. Thank you for always being such a gracious hostess, a brilliant writer, and a real friend in the blogosphere. I will never forget you reaching out to me when I truly was, as my blog was titled at the time, adrift in New York.

With love,
Jakey

Fritz said...

Hello!

I always loved reading your reviews and the Smackdowns and you are actually the reason why I became a blogger because I wanted to join once. Unfortunately, I started blogging when you stopped so I took the opportunity to join the other Smackdown that you have refered to. I am sorry to hear that it pains you so much but I always assumed that your Smackdowns would be back someday.
Maybe some day you will find the time, the strength and the will to start them again.

I wish you just the best!

par3182 said...

oh stinky, not all the hearts have moved on...

Aaron said...

I think I am going to have a grilled cheese sandwich today in Stinkylulu's honor.

Thank you for everything: your intelligent film criticism, the smackdowns, your perceptive critiques of acting, and most of all (obviously) your personal generosity, wisdom, and caretaking.

So much love!
Aaron

Francisco Ormazábal said...

Oh, my heart keeps with you, Stinky. I hope you come back in any other way.

Keith said...

Many thanks for the years of fine work and entertaining writing, and especially for the Smackdowns. Being invited to take part a few years back was such a delightful surprise, and it was great fun forcing myself to watch movies and performances with a more seriously critical point of view than my customary "Oh, that was good. Yup, I liked that a lot."

Best of luck to you, and I look forward to seeing what both Brian and Stinky come up with next.

Robert said...

Your blog was one of the first that I started reading when I discovered the movie-blogosphere and it was truly one of my greatest inspirations to begin writing myself. I'm honored that I was able to take part in even just one of your Blogathons, it was such a pleasure. I will really miss all your fine work and I wish you the best of luck in everything.

Thanks again,
Robert :)

Stacia said...

Oh, Blogger is acting up and ate my last comment... if this is kind of a repeat, sorry!

I wondered if you knew about the other Smackdown, as that blogger has been emailing me and I spent quite a while trying to find out if it was you in another iteration.

I know how you feel, as someone who does a weekly movie article on a HUGE blog has been stealing from me, blatantly. But on the other hand, I accidentally stole the idea of my recent blogathon from 1 or 2 people, completely unintentionally. These things happen in the blogosphere, and I don't think you should take the actions of the person who stole the Smackdown as a hint that you're so over... unless you want to, of course.

I loved lots of your other non-Smackdown features, so I would love to see you come back to blogging some day if you think it's what you want and if it feels right. Take care and good luck.

Middento said...

Lulu --

It breaks my heart to hear of your passing, even as my own blogs lie dormant for the moment as well. I am grateful for everything the blog has brought me -- most of all, perhaps, the opportunity to get to know Brian, your alter ego. Here's hoping that he will continue on in a new way, even as you fade. You are still big (and stinky), after all -- it's just the internet that got small (and... scrubbed?).

with much love,
middento

NATHANIEL R said...

it was a great run. i'll miss it. best wishes moving forward in all you do.

Cal said...

I suppose that I knew this was coming, but it's devastating all the same.

It's completely true that nobody can throw a smackdown like you can. I only participated in one, and yet I used to look forward to them every single month. It's a credit to you that other people have grown attached to the Supporting Actress, and that they're prolific, generating and exercising enthusiasm for Actresses right now. It might not seem as if it's part of you but it kind of is -- whether you like it or not. I think that you should cherish it.

I'm gonna miss your blog posts. I think that you should consider Twitter as a viable method of communicating and forwarding Actressexual tendencies; especially above watching television?!

Come back. :)

Malcolm said...

I'll really miss you and your posts!

You are one of my inspirations that made me go into blogging.

Joe Reid said...

This is a bummer, I'm not gonna lie. A billion thank yous for inviting me to contribute to those Smackdowns. And a billion more for all the rest. But I'm a firm believer that you can't keep a good voice down, so I'll be here, looking forward to whatever comes next.

Dame James said...

This news saddens me on so many levels. First of all, your Smackdowns and beautiful write-ups not only got me interested in blogging but also in Actressing at the Edges as its own category of film. I may have missed some great performances if it wasn't for you and your continual support of lovely ladies in smaller roles. Secondly, and personally, you have always been so kind to me, more kind than any person had to be. I remember e-mailing you so many years ago when I was just getting my blog started and you helped me with a couple of things and even invited me to be a Smackdown panelist (which had always been my dream!). Your work on this blog will be missed. All those imitators (and I, too, have seen a growing number of bloggers who have simply ripped off your post formatting without so much as a tip-of-the-hat to you) will never, ever come close to the original. I hope that whatever you choose to do in the future, it brings you as much joy as this blog once did.

Criticlasm said...

Well, lovely lady, it's been a wonderful ride and experience.

My heart was a little let down, but it's certainly time. You reminded me looking forward to Sunday/Mondays to read the profiles. All good things come to an end, as they should.

<3 <3 <3 <3 <3 for doing it at all , and the care with which you did.

XO

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

Ugh, that depressed me, it sucks when you lose your drive. I can only imagine that it must have been horrible with the haters to battle with. Though I miss the smackdowns, I miss your writing more it was fun, acerbic and yet not mean. I hope you'll be back on line in another form.

augie said...

That is a very well written piece.
As a retired educator (and Oscar buff), I know a well written article when I read one.
Yours was the first Oscar blog I read and printed out and it remains the best after all the imitations.
Thank you so much for all the joy and pleasure you gave me over Smackdown Sundays. I looked forward to that last Sunday each month.
I hope you realize all the laughs, pleasure, joy and fun you brought to a great many people.
Much joy and only the best to you in the future.

tim r said...

Stinky, you were the hostess with the mostest, and it was a privilege to chime in, back in the glory days. Just re-read our 1961 smackdown to remind me what fun it was. We'll always have the archive! As a fellow blogger whose site is a patchy shadow of itself these days, I thoroughly commiserate, and I hope we keep in touch. A toast to you!

Glenn Dunks said...

I wish you all the best! It was great while it lasted!

NicksFlickPicks said...

I too poured out (i.e., gobbled down) a libation to StinkyLulu in the form of a grilled cheese sandwich, a truly delectable situation involving an Everything bagel and an Amish havarti with caraway seeds. So, there's that.

For the Smackdowns and the invitations to participate, the annual blogathon, and the rest of your posts, I thank you, 19 other people already thank you, Fay Bainter and Katy Jurado and Dianne Wiest and Margaret Avery thank you. I think, somewhere, even Thelma Ritter and Agnes Moorehead thank you, and once you've reached that pinnacle, it makes perfect sense to quit while you're on top.

CanadianKen said...

I still remember the jolt of pleasure I got when I first stumbled onto the Smackdown. Thanks so much for keeping that feeling alive for so long. And for inviting me to the party. The Smackdown was a great concept - but it could never have been the joy it was without your generosity, warmth and wit propelling it. And you were, as you know, instrumental in getting me started on my own blog. I'll always think of you fondly and I wish you all the best always.

Alex in Movieland said...

it's the end of an era and I'm honored that I've participated in a couple of smackdowns. :)

thank you so much!

best of luck.

Shaun said...

I haven't seen the site of the great pretender to your throne yet, but I miss your Smackdowns and your weekly reviews of supporting actress performances - often my favourite category, too. Best of luck with your next endeavours.
Your fan on the side.

Gustavo H.R. said...

Rarely did I comment here, but I've never stopped visiting because of the profiles and smackdowns.

Gustavo H.R. said...

Rarely did I comment, but I've never stopped coming to this blog for reference on writing about acting.

Good work for you.

RC said...

i was thinking today about how i will miss the supporting actress blog-a-thon :-(

Always a favorite!

Tanya Ward Goodman said...

Dearest. Just read this (you can see how terrible a follower I am...) Astounding. I am moved to tears. Thank you for sharing.