Open Thread: Professional Blogging – Go Fug Yourself

Go Fug Yourself is one of my favorite websites that is not this one, so I was tickled to find that Anne Helen Petersen at The Hairpin had done an interview with founders/ proprietors Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan:

AHP: Can we go back a little? I want to talk just briefly about how you two started your blog, and what the dynamics were then. What kind of blogging software did you use? Did you pay for image rights? Who was your intended audience?

Jessica: Heather and I were friends who’d known each other for a long time—we’d met originally working at Television Without Pity—and we started GFY as, essentially, an in-joke between the two of us. And because we never intended for it to be a business, we didn’t really think any of that out. The only audience we expected to get was our friends, really. We were on Blogger for a while, because it was free, but we moved fairly quickly over to Typepad because it was a more reliable platform. We were using watermarked Getty Images photos for a while, out of ignorance. It was 2004, and we sincerely thought that because the watermark was on the photo, we were okay to use them. They disabused us of that notion, and we’ve paid for image rights ever since.

Heather: Our first banner was a dinky little cursive thing I did on Photoshop. If we posted once or twice a day, we felt like it was a success. Blogs hadn’t really proliferated yet. Defamer and Nick Denton’s whole media empire were just getting off the ground, so the concept of posting as often as we do now—much less as often as most blogs do now, which is a lot more than we do—wasn’t really established. We didn’t feel like a business; we felt like an after-school activity, or something. I guess you could say the audience was ourselves. So people like us, with similar senses of humor, are the people who helped it grow through word of mouth, and the resulting readership I think probably has a very similar core of what makes everyone laugh even if all of us as people are wildly different….

How do you deal with the assumption that your job is easy or silly?

Jessica: Luckily, I don’t think anyone who actually knows me thinks my job is easy, per se, in the sense that I think they all know that it requires a lot of hours of work. But when it comes right down to it, compared to so many other people, my job does not truly require that much heavy lifting. We get emails sometimes from readers who are like, “I’m in Afghanistan and your website helps me not to feel too homesick,” or oncologists who read us on their lunch break to cheer themselves up, and we always say that our job is to create procrastination material for those people—the people with actually hard jobs. I think that’s important, and I’m proud of what we do, but I can’t get too worked up about it if people decide to be dismissive about it. No pun intended.

Heather: I tend to get a little prickly if I’m being treated like I don’t have a real job. Like I am sitting around on my couch twiddling my thumbs all day, with endless time at my disposal, just because I don’t go to an office. We are a two-person show, so blog-plus-book-plus-columns for New York magazine’s web site… that’s a lot, and then you add my kids’ needs, and it’s not simple to juggle. I certainly do not complain about the fact that those are my jobs—I love them all—but when people give me a look like, “Seriously, you can’t go out day-drinking,” or “REALLY, you don’t just go to the movies all week?”—yeah, I get a little crusty about it. But I agree that we definitely can’t get defensive about the importance of what we do. I mean, we’re not saving lives; we’re blogging about dresses…






55 replies
  1. 1
    Elizabelle says:

    Ahoy. A non-football related post. Thanky much.

  2. 2
    MomSense says:

    GFY is one of my guilty pleasures! I do go there when work is stressful just for a laugh.

  3. 3
    jl says:

    I wonder if there this idea that blog chiefs don’t do much came from. Is there any big shot blog chief honcho who might be responsible for idea that blog chiefs spend their time wandering around the house in a hopeless daze, utterly hapless, barely able to meet the demands of the normal activities of daily living, mainly falling down and cutting their thumbs on nerf toys and whanot?

  4. 4
    maya says:

    @jl: Beats me!

  5. 5
    Dee Loralei says:

    @jl: Arianna Huffington?

  6. 6
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    @Dee Loralei: Please. Someone at the next table is eating.

  7. 7
    Dee Loralei says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN): LOL sorry sir, I humbly beg your forbearance. Mostly I was responding to JL who asked if anyone could think of a bloghost who didn’t do any actual work to make their blog successful. I think AH was the answer to the question.

  8. 8
    Just Some Fughead, Thought Leader says:

    I shudder at the thought of trying to make it all day without drinking.

  9. 9
    jl says:

    @Dee Loralei:

    ” Arianna Huffington? ”

    Thanks, probably who I was thinking of.

  10. 10
    lamh36 says:

    So has heard the poem that Dr Maya Angelou wrote in tribute to Nelson Mandela?

    If not you should…Maya Angelou is one of my personal heroes. I read “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” in high school and had to learn “Phenomenal Woman” by heart.

    Yesterday, the U.S. State Department unveiled a tribute poem written by Dr. Maya Angelou for Mandela “on behalf of the American people.”

    “Yes, Mandela’s day is done,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning Angelou said. “Yet we, his inheritors, will open the gates wider for reconciliation.”

    Maya Angelou Tribute to Nelson Mandela

  11. 11
  12. 12
    MomSense says:

    @lamh36:

    I cried watching that video.

  13. 13
    Wolfdaughter says:

    This story is probably apocryphal, but it’s a goodie nonetheless.

    Tallulah Bankhead was at a party and as usual, had imbibed her share of alcohol. Norman Mailer, who wrote “The Naked and the Dead”, used fug instead of f*ck throughout his book to deflect the wrath of censors. Tallulah was introduced to him, and the first thing she said was, “Ah, yes, dahling. You’re the one who can’t spell f*ck!”

  14. 14
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Wolfdaughter:

    This story is probably apocryphal

    I hope it is true. Have always loved that story. (And it does sound like Tallulah….)

  15. 15
    MikeJ says:

    @Botsplainer: Holy shit, Newt said things I believe.

    Some conservatives say, ah, but he was a communist.

    I would ask of his critics: where were some of these conservatives as allies against tyranny? Where were the masses of conservatives opposing Apartheid? In a desperate struggle against an overpowering government, you accept the allies you have just as Washington was grateful for a French monarchy helping him defeat the British.

  16. 16
  17. 17
    Botsplainer says:

    @MikeJ:

    Broken clocks being right twice daily, I suspect that it is theater.

  18. 18
    lamh36 says:

    Ok, I admit, I’m a sucker for Christmas movies, even if I’m a bit of a bah-humbug…lol.

    What’s your favorite classic Christmas movie or new Christmas movie? I’m partial to It’s A Wonderful Life even if I tend to roll my eyes at it all. I STILL watch every year it comes on.

    Right now, I’m watching the remake of Miracle on 34th Street with Sir Richard Attenbourough, Dylan McDermott and Elizabeth Perkins on HBO. Who else is watching?

    Miracle on 34th Street (1994 Remake)

  19. 19
    Mike in NC says:

    @Botsplainer:

    Looks like Newt has been kicked out of the conservative clubhouse.

    Well, some always said Newt was a RINO and not a True Conservative. There’s your proof!

  20. 20
    YellowJournalism says:

    @lamh36: Just watched “Elf” with the boys today. I love tht one because it touches on all the things that make older classics true Christmas specials.

    I must see Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Mickey’s Christmas Carol. I enjoy the older Christmas Carol film adaptations the most but will watch almost any crappy adaptation and find something to enjoy in how they change the story to fit a time period or a character’s situation.

    I really miss the TBS A Christmas Story 24-hour marathon. You can also never go wrong with Scrooged.

  21. 21
    YellowJournalism says:

    @lamh36: the 1994 version of Miracle has Mara Wilson in it, who has become one of my favorite people to follow on Twitter.

  22. 22

    @lamh36:

    Our holiday tradition is to watch The Shop Around the Corner every Christmas Eve. You just can’t beat Lubitsch.

    “Is it true she had her face lifted?”
    “How am I supposed to know?”
    “Well, how old did she look?”
    “Oh, about 40, 45.”
    “She had her face lifted.”

    My favorite modern Christmas movie is Elf.  I have a fairly low tolerance for Will Ferrell, but I love that movie.

    Last one, we recently discovered Christmas in Connecticut, with Barbara Stanwyck and Sydney Greenstreet.  Stanwyck has been pretending to be a Martha Stewart-like writer living on a farm in Connecticut when she’s actually a Manhattanite who has no clue in the kitchen.  Her publisher (Greenstreet) insists that she host a wounded veteran for Christmas (it’s WWII), and things go about as well as you’d expect.

  23. 23
    jenn says:

    @Botsplainer: Holy crap! Newt said something I agree with! There was a mild cheap shot about DC that I wouldn’t have written, but … wow. It is a little cold outside – is it possible hell has frozen over??

  24. 24

    My guilty pleasure, Get off my Internets, especially the fashion bloggers forum.

  25. 25

    Also, we watch the MST3K Christmas episodes every year.

    “That’s not a doll, that’s a sister!”

  26. 26

    Since we have a lot of veterans here, can someone recommend a reputable veterans charity that’s NOT the Wounded Warriors Project? I want to do a donation on my mom’s behalf as her Christmas present, but I think I’ve heard Wounded Warriors is a scam.

  27. 27
    lamh36 says:

    @YellowJournalism: Yeah, I try to catch all the old skool clay-mation shows along with the original Grinch and Charlie Brown Christmas too.

    I confess to even watching the Hallmark and ABC Family made for tv Christmas movies as well…as I said, I’m a sucker…lol

  28. 28
    lamh36 says:

    @Mnemosyne (iPhone): Oooh, I’m pretty sure I remember that one.

    As for Elf, I do love it too. My fav classic films is the aforementioned Wonderful Life and I fully admit to loving White Christmas

  29. 29
    NotMax says:

    @Mnemosyne

    Couple of years old, but not too out of date, is this article.

    Plus, there is Veterans For Peace.

  30. 30
    NotMax says:

    @lamh36

    Scrooge (a.k.a. A Christmas Carol) – the 1951 version starring Alastair Sim

    A Christmas to Remember – Jason Robards, Eva Marie Saint

    John Huston’s final film, The Dead.

  31. 31
    PurpleGirl says:

    @lamh36:

    The Bishop’s Wife (with Loretta Young, David Niven, and Cary Grant)
    Miracle on 34th Street (original)
    How the Grinch Stole Christmas(original)

  32. 32
    lamh36 says:

    @PurpleGirl: I admit to only seeing a bit of the Bishop’s Wife. I have however seen the remake with Whitney Houston and Denzel Washington, but I already know it’s considered a crappy remake.

    New classic Christmas movies…”Sleepless in Seattle” is kind a Christmas movie ain’t it?

  33. 33
    Anne Laurie says:

    @lamh36: I, for one, think The Preacher’s Wife is at least as good a movie as the original. Hey, Denzel Washington as the angel? (And Whitney Houston was within her skill set as a preacher’s kid who was only comfortable letting her emotions loose in song.)

    And my Xmas Carol is the Muppet Xmas Carol, because Michael Caine nails Scrooge.

  34. 34
    NotMax says:

    @Anne Lauire

    A creaky, dated in style, but not uninteresting version of A Christmas Carol is the film version from 1935 starring Seymour Hicks, who had made a living for decades prior portraying ol’ Ebenezer.

    Some touches not found in most film or TV adaptations include evidence that Bob Cratchit was not unfamiliar with being thrashed while in Scrooge’s employ, an extended scene with the prize butcher with the prize turkey, and also Tiny Tim’s dead body.

    Always do chuckle at the very quick shot of the nameplate on the front door of Scrooge’s house – a stark example of how penny-pinching he was.

  35. 35
    madmommy says:

    I love the Fug Girls, it is a go-to site for me daily though i am as far from fashionable as it is possible to be without turning in my girl card.
    As for Christmas movies, Wonderful Life, Christmas Vacation and The Preacher’s Wife. I’ve seen the original but Whitney sings so beautifully and I am a sucker for a gospel choir. Also, Denzel. @YellowJournalism: Is this no longer a thing? Because I got the hubs hooked on this our first Christmas and it is the background for Christmas morning at our house.

  36. 36
    lamh36 says:

    @Anne Laurie: I like the Preacher’s Wife alot, but then again, I own the soundtrack. As with the biggest of Whitney Houston’s movies…the soundtrack sells the whole thing

  37. 37
    NotMax says:

    For those who like A Christmas Story and might want to sample some more (non-Xmas) Jean Shepherd, The Star-Crossed Romance of Josephine Cosnowski (originally on PBS), is viewable in full.

  38. 38
    glory b says:

    A Christmas Carol with Mr. Magoo, can’t be beat!

  39. 39
    tc says:

    @Mnemosyne (iPhone): the Fisher House Foundation

  40. 40

    The Patrick Stewart version of A Christmas Carol.

  41. 41
    lamh36 says:

    @lamh36: Ooh, I can’t believe I forgot Love Actually. It’s one of my fav movies ever…Christmas or not

  42. 42
    YellowJournalism says:

    @madmommy: I’m not sure. I’m not in the US anymore and don’t get TBS.

    I can’t believe I didn’t include Christmas Vacation. I even own it on BluRay.

    Clark: Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas, kiss my ass. Kiss his ass. Kiss your ass. Happy Hanukkah.

  43. 43
    catclub says:

    @Mnemosyne (iPhone): You might try Final Salute. Housing for homeless(?)
    senior vets.

  44. 44
    Thlayli says:

    I have the “I Hate What You’re Wearing” t-shirt.

  45. 45

    […] Botsplainer at Balloon Juice, I see that Newt Gingrich wrote something downright sensible on the occasion of Nelson […]

  46. 46
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    Scrooge, the version of A Christmas Carol starring Alistair Sim. Best ever. And the cartoon of the Grinch. Give me those and I am ready for the holiday.

  47. 47

    @tc:

    I think that’s the one I was thinking of, because I was like, “What’s that Ronald McDonald House thingy for veterans’ families?”

  48. 48
    Bjacques says:

    Die Hard is still one of my favorite Christmas movies. “Now I haf machine gun. Ho! Ho! Ho!”

  49. 49
    Pen says:

    Heather: I tend to get a little prickly if I’m being treated like I don’t have a real job. Like I am sitting around on my couch twiddling my thumbs all day, with endless time at my disposal, just because I don’t go to an office. We are a two-person show, so blog-plus-book-plus-columns for New York magazine’s web site… that’s a lot, and then you add my kids’ needs, and it’s not simple to juggle. I certainly do not complain about the fact that those are my jobs—I love them all—but when people give me a look like, “Seriously, you can’t go out day-drinking,” or “REALLY, you don’t just go to the movies all week?”—yeah, I get a little crusty about it. But I agree that we definitely can’t get defensive about the importance of what we do. I mean, we’re not saving lives; we’re blogging about dresses…

    She thinks she has it bad as a blogger? Try being a professional fiction author. I write as a hobby (and may e-publish something if I’m ever happy with it) and know a fair number of published authors. If there’s one commonality between nearly all of them it’s that everyone, even their family, fails to understand that taking your laptop to the coffee shop isn’t a way to loaf around and relax, it’s a way to get the hell from family distractions and get some work done.

  50. 50
    Pen says:

    I don’t usually share articles I find on here with friends and family, but damn does this one make my blood boil. If I had more money I know exactly where it would be going: to help these kids and fight the HSLDA.

  51. 51
    Pen says:

    Oy, sorry folks. my last reply was on the wrong window. I think I need more coffee…

  52. 52
    g says:

    Back when GFY started I used to go there all the time. The comments were really funny, too. Then at some point they stopped having comments, and I emailed the bloggers and asked them whether they were going to bring the comments back – I think I said something like, “I love your blog but the commenters are almost as good as the posts.”

    I got back an answer that surprised me by its defensiveness; she was basically accusing me of insulting her for saying that. I stopped visiting. And, truly, it wasn’t fun anymore without the comments.

  53. 53
    Pen says:

    @g: Why would anybody ever visit a blog that doesn’t allow comments? If I wanted someone to talk at me I would stick to the AP. Blogs are about conversation, community involvement. Any author that forgets that is wrapping the noose around their own neck.

  54. 54
    Anne Laurie says:

    @g: GFY certainly has comments now — the writers interact there,too.

  55. 55
    Waysel says:

    @lamh36: “Scrooged” with Bill Murray is my favorite Christmas movie. It is hilarious. I love Bill Murray though- ‘Caddyshack’ and ‘Groundhog Day’ are two of my favorite comedy movies evah.

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