How I got started

| | Comments (6)

You young whippersnappers don't know how easy you've got it. It was a hard life, blogging back in the old days. We didn't have fancy-schmancy tools like Movable Type or WordPress. We didn't even have HTML, or even computers, for pete's sake! Back when I started, we blogged with chalk. That's right, chalk! All I had to work with was a 1 KB chalkboard. Hits per day? Maybe 100. Archives? My archives long ago settled in between the blocks of the parquet floor. You had one chalkboard, and when it was full, it was full. You wanted to write something new? You erased what was there.

The Unfriendly Philosopher, 1981

"3: Mike Bates, the Unfriendly Philosopher, writes yet another satirical comment." -- Eight Acres 1981, p. 72.

Sometime in 1978 or 1979, Carlos Tuttle, then head of Holland Hall's Upper School and teacher of Oklahoma History, delivered a lecture in the school's commons about Washington Irving's book A Tour of the Prairies, in which Irving describes his 1832 journey through what is now northeastern Oklahoma. Mr. Tuttle described how Irving's route took him through what is now Tulsa, and in all likelihood right across what is now Holland Hall's football field. For his talk, Mr. Tuttle made use of a large map of Oklahoma, which was supported by a freestanding chalkboard.

After the talk, the chalkboard remained in the commons through some oversight, finding its way to the corner near the southeast staircase. An upperclassman calling himself the Friendly Philosopher began to write a thought for the day on the board. Before long a senior named Sean Haugh began posting biting and cynical satire on the chalkboard, calling himself the Unfriendly Philosopher. At some point, I became the Unfriendly Philosopher's Apprentice, graduating from my apprenticeship as I became a senior. The board was used for lampooning every aspect of school life, and although I cannot remember the specifics of any articles I wrote, there's at least one reader of this blog who probably can. I wasn't the sole user of the chalkboard -- a number of my friends wrote for the chalkboard as well, so it was a kind of primitive group blog.

The only writings that survive from the period are the class prophecy, which I co-wrote with Alex Eaton and Rick Koontz; Gallway, the April Fools' Day parody newspaper, which Tim Nelson, Rick Koontz, and I wrote and edited; and the speech that got me elected as an at-large representative to the Student Council.


Bobby said:

Blogged by chaulkboard ehhhh? But did you ever wear a K+E slide rule on your belt?

No -- I had a TI-30!

Mark said:

Your best work was actually delivered by someone else: an underclassman who was running for a student council position delivered a speech you wrote that was nothing but references to famous political speeches (MLK, William Jennings Bryan, etc.) I'll never forgot that little guy, waving his arms and gesturing madly while pleading with the school not to crucify him upon a cross of gold.

That was Byron Watson -- an eighth-grader running for school secretary -- and I think we recycled a lot of the same historical allusions that we used in my speech at the beginning of the same year. I remember going over to his house to deliver the text of the speech. His mom was relieved that some upperclassmen were helping him with the speech so he wouldn't make a fool of himself. Well, it worked for me. Had to have been his delivery.

mark said:

Bryon Watson, a.k.a. "deviate from the norm"

Wonder what he is up to?

That's right -- that's how the speech began: "I'm Byron Watson, deviant from the norm."

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on March 12, 2005 11:37 PM.

I was a blogger, but now I'm Reformed was the previous entry in this blog.

None so blind as those who will not see is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.



Subscribe to feed Subscribe to this blog's feed:
[What is this?]