Category Archives: HOAG Site

Leonard Cohen On Parade – Thanksgiving 2011

DrHGuy & The Duchess will be spending Thanksgiving with family so  the Heck Of A Guy and DrHGuy sites will on holiday hiatus until November 29, 2011.

As a farewell, we offer this early look at two special Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons. (click on image to enlarge)

Oct 2, 2011: Heck Of A Guy Hosts Most Viewers Ever – The Leonard Cohen Facebook Bump

Where Has Lorca Cohen Been All My (Blog’s) Life?

Judging by her behavior following our wedding and the recent celebration of those nuptials, the Duchess believes in prompt thank-you notes. I suspect, in fact, she is secretly developing an app that will enable her to graciously accept a wedding gift and simultaneously launch a personalized note of gratitude that would instantly arrive in the gift-giver’s email and also immediately be sent as a handwritten epistle via the US Postal Service.

While equally appreciative of the loot, I am less efficacious in generating punctual acknowledgements.

Thus it is that I am publishing this thank-you to Lorca Cohen, webmaster of the Leonard Cohen Facebook page two weeks after the fact.1

On October 2, 2011 the Leonard Cohen Facebook page carried a link to Heck Of A Guy with this legend: A very funny site.

The result is displayed on the graph atop this post: 13,505 Unique Visitors and 25,757 Pageviews on October 2, 2011 (a Sunday).

DrHGuy, Heck Of A Guy’s sibling site, experienced an less pronounced but still impressive echo bump in its stats, as did the videos posted at Chelsea Hotel #1 By Leonard Cohen, Do I Have To Dance All Night, and We Love Leonard Cohen At 77.

So, thank you Lorca Cohen – and you too, Leonard.

  1. While the official social arbiters sanction thank-you notes that arrive 3-6 months post-event, two weeks in internet time constitutes an era. []

Leonard Cohen On Tattoos Collection

In this exchange from On the road to singing sensation, a 1966 CBC TV interview, Leonard Cohen exercises the poet’s prerogative of re-interpreting and manipulating the interviewer’s words and his own to distract and deflect:

Leonard Cohen: … I thought that I would … get a tattoo
Beryl Fox: Where?
Leonard Cohen: There’s this place on St. Lawrence Blvd.

As far as I can determine, Leonard Cohen never got that tattoo – but many of his admirers do sport inked images and words inspired by the Canadian singer-songwriter, such as the dramatic portrait shown above,  on their bodies and those specimens are the focus of the latest themed Leonard Cohen photo collection at  Heck Of A Guy – the nascent Leonard Cohen On Tattoos Collection.

Other Leonard Cohen Themed Photo Galleries:

Secrets Of Popularity Minimization Tutorial Offered In DrHGuy’s Absence

DrHGuy will be unavailable for one or two days.  During this absence, Heck Of A Guy offers an encore presentation (yep, it’s a rerun) of a February 22, 2007 post, How To Prevent A Well-written Blog From Being Well-read.

fedoradivider

Seek not the favor of the multitude; it is seldom got by honest and lawful means. But seek the testimony of the few; and number not voices, but weigh them.
~Immanuel Kant

Avoid popularity; it has many snares, and no real benefit.
~William Penn

How To Prevent A Well-written Blog From Being Well-read

The most significant blogological observation resulting from my Heck Of A Guy 2006 reviews can be summarized as follows:

Despite posting content that, in comparison to that of many other, far more heavily visited sites, is better written, more informative, and funnier,1 I have managed to minimize this blog’s popularity.

Note that I am not whining about this discrepancy; heck, I can’t even bring myself to call it unfair. Short of voting fraud, what kind of complaint can one legitimately mount against the outcome of a popularity contest? “It’s not fair that she won; she’s more popular than me?” “This is supposed to be a popularity contest, but it’s turned into nothing but a popularity contest?”

I don’t think so.

So the good content-low readership phenomenon isn’t a rip-off (except in the most cosmically karmic of perspectives), but it is kinda interesting.2

Successfully minimizing the popularity of a blog that is well-written, informative, and funny doesn’t happen accidentally. It requires a strategy. As a service to bloggers everywhere, I’ve identified and listed a dozen methods I’ve used effectively to protect some outstanding content from readers.3

Erect A Defensive Perimeter To Deflect Potential Viewers

1. Divert readers with a clichéd, irrelevant, and, above all, dull opening before they become invested in your blog’s content

Try, for example, opening the post with an obscure, moralistic quote from someone like Immanuel Kant or William Penn.

2. Be a high roller at the Technology Casino

For example, spice up your trial and error code-writing self-education with a tinge of terror by making changes in your only copy of your blog stylesheet and template.

Use the cheapest host sites; how different could they be?

Experiment with every blogging tool, toy, and gizmo available, especially if (1) it’s new and untested4 and (2) you’re not certain of its benefits or potential problems.5

The technical problems thus created, however transient, can convince viewers your site is unreliable and can continue to diminish your audience long after those flaws have been repaired.

If viewers can’t view your site, you don’t have to worry about them as readers – or the links to you they might have placed on their own sites if they had liked what they would have seen – or their viewers who might have visited after the original readers (justifiably, of course) praised your talents. Every snafu that takes your site out of service (or just extends the time it takes for your site to load beyond a few seconds) has the potential to cause your very own [ choose one] vicious cycle or domino effect.

And, if Joe Bob’s browser can’t see your site, there’s a good chance Googlebot can’t see it either. Say goodbye to the search engine index.

Make The Blog A Challenge – Who Wants 3.2 Million Readers
If They Aren’t Willing To Jump Through A Few Hoops?

3. Always keep ‘em guessing

Shun straightforward news, advice, story-telling, or humor. Waver ambiguously between serious content, pathos, complex parody, and pretentious metaphysics, always maintaining sufficiently sardonic tone to cast doubt on the intention, let alone the accuracy, of even the simplest statement.

4. Exorcise all hobgoblins of consistency, foolish or otherwise

Follow your own bliss within each posting. There is no consistency police to prevent you writing a single post that includes a critique of a movie you saw a decade ago, a review of an unrelated book you once read, a description of the best web sites for flash games involving gambling, Visigoths, and shellfish, the third cutest thing your kid said last week, a recap of Sunday’s sermon, and a paragraph on that armadillo dildo featured yesterday on the Discovery Channel. It’s a big world; there has to be somebody who will love that mix.

And remember, segues and transitions are for wusses.

As for your blog in general, stay true to the theme that you are far too special to be limited to a single theme. Resist and refute pleas to focus your efforts.

It is, by the way, inadequate to be merely inconsistent. There is the danger that some readers might enjoy reading a series of randomly chosen topics. To reliably discourage readers, one must be inconsistently inconsistent.

The writer sincerely desirous of thinning out the readership would be wise to affirmatively mislead the viewer into the conviction that a pattern exists, then expand and enhance that expectation, and finally, crush that hope. Imagine the disappointment and frustration, for example, generated when a viewer reads a couple of posts written on a single topic, notices an indication that another is in the offing (e.g., “There’s more to this story.”), becomes increasingly enchanted by the promise of the promised sequel (e.g., “You won’t believe which presidential candidate showed up at the orgy.”), but then never finds another mention of the issue at hand. (Note how this ploy efficiently aggravates the reader and amuses the author.)

5. Employ your writing style as a weapon of mass obfuscation

Be warned that a sesquipedalian vocabulary is advantageous but insufficient for the accomplishment of this goal. Eager beaver readers, for example, can simply look up the definitions of even the most impressively polysyllabic words.

Many of these individuals, however, can be flummoxed by adding a few obsolete words, preferably obsolete words that became obsolete because they were abstruse even when they were in common use.

Using an archaic definition of a frequently used word can also be effective. Using an archaic meaning of an obsolete word is, of course, blogging’s equivalent of Scrabble’s triple word score.

The clever writer, however, will recognize that the potential for befuddlement is greater still if one intersperses technical jargon, cultural or regional slang, professional argot, and the like indiscriminately throughout the composition. This tactic is most effective if these terms are stripped of any clues as to their origins; in such a pure synsemantic or KWOC format, these literary land mines are nearly impossible for the reader to defuse.

While depositing a foreign phrase (without translation of course), in the midst of an exposition has nearly become its own parody, one should not overlook this strategy, given that it not only contributes to the general mystification of those foolhardy enough to peruse that posting but is also the writer’s classic instrument of intellectual one-upmanship, n’est-ce pas?

Like a foreign phrase, figurative language, implemented carefully, can supersede and impede comprehension. No less an authority on confusion than Bugs Bunny provides an example worthy of emulation in the episode, “Baseball Bugs,” when he speaks directly to the audience prior to his final pitch of the game:

Watch me paste this pathetic palooka with a powerful paralyzing perfect pachydermous percussion pitch.

Similarly, allusions can be confounding – if handled correctly. Anyone can invoke and recognize Greek, Roman, and, all too often, even Norse myths. On the other hand, mix in a few Iranian, Oceana, or Mesoamerican deities (without explanation, natch), and you, my friend, have got yourself an allusion to disillusion – one that will drive the hardiest reader to despair.

Another good bet is a throwaway line linked to some scholastic trifle just familiar enough that most readers have probably seen it before but obscure enough that most won’t recall the specific meaning,6 thus inducing in your erstwhile reader an element of embarrassment and, with luck, some shame, effective deterrents to further reading. I have found, for instance, that references to the formal names of logical fallacies can be forced into almost any context and are thus invaluable in this respect:

That is a case of dicto secundum quid ad dictum simpliciter.
You, sir, have fallen prey to the Fallacy of Undistributed Middle.

Rather than surrender to the use of a short, simple word if a difficult, arcane term cannot be found to fit the context, draw up your courage and invent an expression; this kind of neologisticity not only delights the writer but also bewilders the reader.

Finally, keep in mind that authoritative and conclusive reader-daunting requires simultaneously stocking ones posts with these impediments to comprehension while subtly sustaining the implicit value judgment that any competently educated eighth-grader would recognize these terms and their meanings in context.

6. Use complexity to transform each post into an obstacle course to deplete the reader’s energy and motivation

As assuredly as the unexpected appearance of the philanderer’s wife during his assignation with his secretary causes him, however ardent he may have been previously, to detumesce, a proliferation of subordinate and embedded clauses, compound sentences, prepositional and participial phrases, coordinating, subordinating, and correlative conjunctions, and especially correlative adverbs, along with their entourage of commas, colons, and semicolons leads to an analogous deflation of interest by the initially steadfast reader. A well designed post can demoralize the reader to the point of swearing off the perusal of blogs altogether.

7. Even if you can’t make it entertaining, informative, amusing, or touching, you can certainly make it long

Get your money’s worth from each post. It isn’t worth booting up that computer to write a two or three paragraph post someone can conveniently read in less than five minutes.

Besides those ne’er-do-wells who read your blog obviously don’t have anything important to do.

Don’t Make It Easy For Google And The Other Search Engines
- It’s None Of Their Business What Your Post Is Really About

8. A clever headline that amuses its creator, misdirects the reader, and, most importantly, obscures the content from the search engines is invariably preferable to one that simply and accurately describes the subject of the post

So what if search engines, which account for 90% of your readership, depend on the first few words of a heading to provide an indication of the content – they’re so smart, let them figure out that pun or your idiosyncratic tertiary references. With just this one tactic, you can both discourage those who have already landed on your blog and prevent many, many more from finding it at all.

9. Do whatever necessary to discourage links to your site

Just because Google and some other search engines use links going to your blog as the most important determinant in ranking your site in their listings doesn’t mean you need stoop to ask for a link, especially from a high-ranking site. And, you certainly abstain from writing a post about anything that might get another blogger or webmaster to link to your blog.

Just be patient and wait for those connections to come naturally. God – and here I’m thinking of one of those Mesoamerican or Iranian gods – will take care of those links for you when he/she/it is good and ready.

10. Don’t check your site’s statistics more often than every 3 or 4 months – and even then keep it superficial

First, if you don’t know which content is popular, you won’t be tempted to focus on that area.

And, by sporadically skimming stats erratically rather than carefully analyzing them on a regular basis, you reduce the risk of making the site more accessible. If you start thinking about the 65% of your readers with dial up access, for instance, you might decide to reduce the number and size of those images you habitually stick in every post. You might even begin including only graphics that are somehow relevant. And then you’re stuck with more readers. Besides, if they really want to read your post about the economics of the Asian trade deficit, they’ll wait the 45 minutes needed to load your logo featuring a life-size photo of Dick Cheney in a Wonder Woman costume.


Example of large, intriguing, and absolutely irrelevant graphic
gratuitously inserted into an already overblown post7

Best of all, without those pesky stats, you can continue to ignore that never-been-here-before segment of visitors who make up 96% of your audience and to pretend that one of your friends or family, i.e., someone who feels obligated to read and praise your blog every day, is your prototypical visitor. Writing posts for that elite target audience, who have already memorized all those clever pseudonyms you’ve assigned and learned the key words that are coded shortcuts to your blog’s inside jokes and who are predisposed to appreciate you, is, trust me, much easier than writing those clear, high quality, interesting posts all those strangers are likely to demand.

Create A Persistently Dissatisfying
Experience For The Reader

11. Don’t discount the capacity of the little things to make your blog irritating, annoying, and generally off-putting

I advise, for example, publishing lengthy essays in tiny, light-colored fonts on a barely contrasting off-white background.

12.8

Update September 7, 2011: 13. Re-run posts from 4 years ago.

  1. While “better written, more informative, and funnier” is an assessment so broad and subjective as to be both irrefutable and indefensible, I believe I can present side-by-side comparisons that are convincing. More to the point, the remainder of this essay would equally valid if this initial conditional phrase began “Even were I posting content that is … better written, more informative, and funnier.” In any case, I’ll switch back to my more characteristic false modesty once I’m finished arguing this point. []
  2. And yes, the fact that I think this sort of thing is interesting – and then write about it – may itself have something to do with why Heck Of A Guy has not reached its peak popularity potential. []
  3. I started with “Top Ten Ways To Minimize The Popularity Of A Well-written Blog,” but expanded to 12 upon recognizing the importance of prolixity and over-explaining in discouraging readers. []
  4. If it were unsafe, would they let you download it? []
  5. You can significantly increase the chances of botching your blog’s mechanics by the simple expedient of simultaneously experimenting with several new add-ons, plug-ins, and tools (a minimum of a half-dozen with no limits on the maximum sounds about right); not only do you improve your odds of happening onto faulty software but even if each program is well constructed, there is still the potential for two or more to prove mutually incompatible. It’s also a nice touch to schedule these trial runs to take place just before publishing a time-sensitive post; this tactic not demonstrates your flare for the dramatic but also broadcasts that death wish aura that only the hardiest and most mordant viewers can tolerate. And, don’t bother reading the installation instructions, warnings, or requirements; how are you going to add eight new plug-ins 15 minutes before your sports blog’s Super Bowl post is published if you have to read about every one of them? []
  6. Cinema fans will recognize this tactic as the “Woody Allen Gambit” []
  7. The otherwise fascinating image is “Amphitheater of Eternal Wisdom,” painted by Hans Vredeman de Vries, c. 1595 []
  8. Use footnotes (and parentheses) whether they are needed or not []

A Thank-You Note To Readers And Leonard Cohen From Duchess Of Durham


Dear Heck Of A Guy Readers,

When Allan, soon after I met him, wooed me with carefully selected passages from  Chelsea Hotel #2 – a song I’d never heard before – I thought there might be something special going on.

When I found myself playing Diva #2 in his movie about how how to make a concoction called Chocolodka by combining cheap vodka and British candy bars in a dishwasher, I became convinced I had become involved in – well, let’s call it a unique relationship.

And when Allan convinced me that making the world aware of  Do I Have To Dance All Night, a song never released on an album and one that Leonard Cohen, a singer-songwriter unknown to me before Allan and I met, last sang 30 years ago, was indeed a moral imperative, well, I knew I had been irreversibly assimilated into a strange and fantastic new world.

None of that, however,  prepared me for awakening a couple of days ago to find news of our wedding posted on Heck Of A Guy. 1

Even more impressive were all those wonderful comments that followed the DrHGuy & Duchess Of Durham To Wed post.

I want to thank each of you for those comments. I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of well wishes and love from people that I am just meeting for the first time at Heck of a Guy.  I have read them all more than once and they never fail to make me smile and even more feel cared for.  I am looking forward to being at least a small part of each of your lives, as I help with the blog.  Our time together thus far has been an enlightening and joyful adventure that I expect to continue for many years to come.  I am delighted that we can share some of that with each of you.  Again, a very sincere thank you for all of you that have touched my heart with your comments.

And, of course, I want to thank Leonard Cohen, whose songs and poems were a special – and effective – part of our courtship and have become such an important part of the life we share.

Sincerely,

Penny
aka Duchess of Durham

PS Regardless of what Allan says, we did not pick our wedding date because “it falls between gigs for Leonard Cohen and his band,” thus making them available to play at our festivities.

PPS On the other hand, if Leonard is willing to give us a rate and to bunk in the spare room to save a few bucks, …

Credit Due Department: Images by Penny Noell Photography

  1. Ah, my wedding announcement sandwiched between New Video Of Leonard Cohen’s Chelsea Hotel #1 and The 2012 Leonard Cohen Tour Probability Meter on a Cohencentric web site that also features walker-based gymnastics, my own interview with the owner-chef of Dame’s Chicken & Waffles, and the suspiciously titled Protection From My [my fiance's] Marriage For A Small Feeit’s every little girl’s dream come true. []

Improvements – Leonard Cohen Video, French To English Translations, Cover Art

… With A Little Help From My Friends

In the past few days, several posts previously published at Heck Of A Guy  have benefited from friends and colleagues contributing material and skills. In today’s entry. readers are alerted to these improvements and corrections and the graciousness and generosity of the contributors are recognized.

Video More Complete And More Accurate – Still Funny

Ongoing viewers may recall Roman Gavrilin, the newly minted historian from St. Petersburg who came up with a batch of additions to the Leonard Cohen Nicknames List (see “Badass Of Dark Verse” Is 95th Addition To Leonard Cohen Nicknames List). Now, Roman has made available an improved version of the top rated entry from The 5 Funniest Leonard Cohen Music Videos.

The newly uploaded video replaces the 1988 video of “First We Take Manhattan” identified in its YouTube blurb as having originated on French TV, with a German TV broadcast that includes a final scene (see  above graphic) missing in the first version of this video posted at Heck Of A Guy.1 Those final seconds show Leonard Cohen handling papers that,  depending on ones interpretation, are newscaster’s notes, Cohen’s plan for world domination, or the contract that obligated him to perform in this farce.

Google English Translations Replaced By Intelligible Translations

Coco Éclair last seen at this domain as the chief investigator in the clinical trial described at Duelling Drinks Taste Test- Leonard Cohen’s Red Needle Vs DrHGuy’s Chocolodka, has applied her skills as a translator to improve (i.e., make readable) some of the French to English translations at Why Singer Sylvie Maréchal Denounced The Album In Which “It Just Feels” By Leonard Cohen Appears.

For example, the section Google translates as

Pale and thin with Patti Smith, Sylvia Marshall, French singer of 25 years has rabies, the voice of blues and physical need. “Sylvie Marshall sings with her guts, until thoroughly after itself, with its caravan of anger, his bluesy groans, his unspoken affection, screaming his life.”

… is translated into this prose by Coco Éclair:

As pale and thin as Patti Smith, 25 year-old French singer, “Sylvie Maréchal, has the rage, the bluesy voice, and the fitting physique.  Sylvie Maréchal sings from her gut – from her innermost self.  With a stream of anger, her bluesy rails, her unavowed tenderness, she screams her story.”

Key Clues And Covers From  The Incredible Private Collection of Dominique BOILE

Those who read How Leonard Cohen Came To Write “It Just Feels” With Dave Stewart – According To Leonard Cohen and  Why Singer Sylvie Maréchal Denounced The Album In Which “It Just Feels” By Leonard Cohen Appears may recognize Dominique Boile as the source of clippings from the early 1990s that provided keys to the answers to the questions referenced in those titles.

Now, Dominique has sent forwarded, from his immense collection, accumulated over a period of 40 years,  the image of the cover art from the Portuguese pressing of Leonard Cohen’s “Do I Have To Dance All Night,” a Heck Of A Guy favorite, as well as an improved copy of the cover art from the French pressing.

And – They’ll Be Back

Yep, each of these three talented and generous individuals will soon reappear in these pages in vastly larger and more significant projects.  Hard to believe, eh?  Stay tuned.


  1. At least four similar versions of this video, one Belgian,one  German,  and two French, are known to exist. []