Thursday, 4 June 2009

The Fifth Anniversary of A Shroud of Thoughts

On June 4, 2004 I made the first entry to A Shroud of Thoughts. That makes today the fifth anniversary of this blog. Throughout that time I have posted to this blog at least three times a week, every week. I will admit, some of the posts were pretty poor and others were pretty short, but I have always managed to keep A Shroud of Thoughts updated.

For those people who keep track of the latest developments on the Internet, it should not be surprising that A Shroud of Thoughts was founded in 2004. In the years 2004 and 2005 blogs became the "in" thing. Even though blogs had been around 1997, it was in those years that the conventional media first took notice of blogs (by way of example, here's an article from the September 22, 2004 edition of The Christian Science Monitor about blogs and a current event of the time). A good number of people were starting blogs back then blogs. Indeed, a number of my favourite bloggers are also celebrating their fifth anniversaries this year: J. Maquis of Major Conflict, Jeremy of Popped Culture, Snave of Various Ecstacies, and Toby of Inner Toob (let me know if I've forgotten anyone). I encourage all of you to check out these blogs, as they are some of the best out there.

As to how A Shroud of Thoughts came about, one of my friends at the time had a blog she had operated since around 1992. This inspired me to create my own blog. As to the name, I drew that from Lord Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage canto iii stanza 113, which is quoted below:

I have not loved the world, nor the world me;
I have not flattered its rank breath, nor bow'd
To its idolatries a patient knee,
Nor coin'd my cheek to smiles, nor cried aloud
In worship of an echo; in the crowd
They could not deem me one of such; I stood
Among them, but not of them; in a shroud
Of thoughts which were not their thoughts, and still could,
Had I not filed my mind, which thus itself subdued.

Of course, the internet has changed a good deal since A Shroud of Thoughts and its contemporary blogs were founded five years ago. In 2004 only 43/% of all Americans were connected to the internet through a broadband connection as opposed to dial-up. By 2008 the number of people using broadband in the United States had risen to 72.5 %. It is difficult to gauge the total impact the steady increase in the number of Americans using broadband has had on the internet, but one result may be the popularity in video on the internet which has steadily increased throughout the Naughts. While video sharing websites have existed in some form since the late Nineties, they would not become commonplace until the Naughts. Indeed, the most popular video sharing website, YouTube, was not founded until February 2005 (by which time A Shroud of Thoughts was already eight months old). In 2004 one could watch only a very few television shows online. Now not only do the vast majority of broadcast networks and cable channels have their most recent shows available online, but they even have classic shows available for viewing over the internet (NBC and CBS are notable examples). What is more, one can watch entire movies online through such venues as NetFlix and ITunes. I have no doubt that these changes developed because more people now use broadband connections as opposed to dial up connections. Let's face it, one could watch video on dial up, but it was very tiresome to do so. It usually meant sitting for many minutes while even a short video buffered before one could watch it.

One thing that has changed since 2004 which is probably not due to the fact that more people are connected to the net via broadband than before is the popularity of social networking sites. Social networking sites existed in some form long before 2004. Classmates.Com was founded all the way back in 1995. Even MySpace pre-dates 2004, being founded by 2003. Facebook was founded in February 2004. Still, there can be no denying that while social networking sites existed before 2004, they would not explode in popularity until after that.

As to A Shroud of Thoughts, it has changed over the years. I must confess that I started A Shroud of Thoughts without much of a plan, beyond writing about those things in which I was interested. As the vast majority of my posts dealt with pop culture in some way, shape, or form, I then the blog's primary focus would be pop culture (I believe I decided this in the first month--maybe the first week--of the blog's existence). And while I have never gone into detail on my personal life in this blog, I did discuss it a bit in my earliest posts. I eventually stopped this practice because a.) this is a blog about pop culture, not me, and b.) people probably are not interested in reading about my problems. Other than that there has not really been too much change in the subject matter of A Shroud of Thoughts. I do think the blog was originally a bit more nostalgic than it is now. While I still wax nostalgic about such pop culture artefacts as old TV shows, old movies, old rock groups, pulp magazines, comic books, and so on, I do not write about the places important to American society as I once did. At one time I did posts on such places as department stores, dime stores, barber shops, cinemas, drive in restaurants, and so on. It was not a conscious choice I made about writing about such places, but rather the fact that I eventually ran out of such places to write about!

One change in subject I consciously made was the incorporation of video into posts. This is directly related to the growing number of people on broadband (including myself) and the popularity of video sharing websites. For those of you who might be curious, the first video ever appearing in a post was a clip of the Underdog theme song courtesy of IFilm in the post "There's No Need to Fear...Underdog is Here" from August 6, 2007. I actually had broadband before that, so I am embarrassed to admit that this was the first time I thought of incorporating video into a post!

As to the way that A Shroud of Thoughts looks, that would change frequently in the early days of the blog. For those of you wondering, here is the original look of A Shroud of Thoughts when it debuted, here is a screen capture courtesy of the Wayback Machine.

Unfortunately, the Wayback Machine did not spider the way A Shroud of Thoughts looked in between the original template and this one. Fortunately, I do remember them. The second template was simply a three column version of the original. After Blogger introduced the ability to embed images into one's blog, which resulted in my second template starting halfway down the page for some reason. I switched temporarily the template Minima Black before adopting this template. This template was reated through combining Blogger's Minima Black with Eris Design's Faintly Victorian (sadly, I don't think Eris Design exists any longer) and throwing in some modifications of my own, such as the way comments are handled. I have used it since July 2005. Since then Blogger has introduced what they call Layouts features, but must upgrade his or her blog to one of Blogger's new templates to do so. As Blogger still has no three column templates, then, I see no reason to change the current template! I can do without those fancy Layout features.

I suppose I have rambled on enough about A Shroud of Thoughts here. I will simply close with two things. The first, in honour of the blog's fifth anniversary, is an open invitation to anyone who wants to make a guest post to A Shroud of Thoughts. If you would like to be a guest blogger, you can email at the handy email link in the right hand column. If for whatever reason the link at the right does not work, then email me at either mercurie at or spacelord at I only have a few ground rules:

1. The post must be on some facet of pop culture. This is not as narrow as it sounds, because it includes everything from movies to literature (by my definition, Shakespeare is pop culture).
2. Please, keep all posts rated PG-13 at the most. I will not say A Shroud of Thoughts is a family blog, but I am fully aware that children might be reading it.
3. Given the fact that I can be long winded, a post can be fairly long, but not so long that it must be posted in entries. I am the only one who gets to write series of articles here!
4. If you want pictures included with your post, please email them to me!

Finally, I went through the blog last weekend and chose what I felt have been my best entries over the past five years, except for 2008-2009 (those were included in yesterday's post). So, here they are, year by year, "The Greatest Hit of A Shroud of Thoughts!"


Action Figures BSW (Before Star Wars 08/12/2004

Action Figures and Merchandising 08/13/2004

The Vanguard of Mars Part One 09/03/2004

The Vanguard of Mars Part Two 09/04/2005

The Golden Age of Horror Movies 10/02/2004

The Week Before Halloween 2004

Disney 03/18/2005

Fantasy Films of the Eighties 04/01/2005

The Adventures of Robin Hood 04/19/2005

The Architecture of Cinemas 05/10/2005

The Blonde Mystique 05/25/2005


A Night at the Movies 06/10/2005

Simon and Garfunkel 06/11/2005

The Rise and Fall of the Independent Televison Station 06/13/20085

Les Belles Dames Sans Merci: Elf Maidens and Men 06/30/2005

The Fleischer Superman Cartoons 08/03/2005

Blondie Turns 75 09/08/2005

Forty Years of The Wild Wild West 09/17/2005

Dracula on Film 10/30/2005

Roald Dahl's Critics 11/13/2005

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloons 11/24/2005

The History of Heavy Metal (all five parts and another entry thrown in for good measure) 02/05/2006

Vikings on Film 02/16/2006

The Week of February 26, 2006 ("The Dramatic Roles of Gene Kelly," "Great Expectations," and eulogies for three of my favourite actors)


The Most Successful Studio Never to Exist 06/11/2006

Midnight Movies 08/06/2006

Nero Wolfe...Merely a Genius 08/19/2006

The Monkees Turn 40 09/12/2006

Dick Tracy Turns 75 10/04/2006

Dark Shadows 10/28/2006

Warren Horror Comic Magazines 10/30/2008

5 November 11/05/2006

The Long Journey of Casino Royale to the Big Screen 11/19/2006

The Beatles Cartoon 12/09/2006

The Future Was Then 02/19/2006

Warner Brothers Cartoons AB (After Bugs) 04/06/2007

Shicinin no samurai (Seven Samurai) 04/15/2007

The Week of April 29, 2007, includes "Concept Albums Parts One, Two, and Three"

The 70th Anniversary of the Hindenberg Disaster 05/06/2007

The Anime Wave on American Television in the Sixties Part One 05/27/2007

The Anime Wave on American Television in the Sixties Part Two 05/28/2007

It Was 40 Years Ago Today 06/01/2007


The Week of June 24, contains the three part article "Defining Generation X"2007

The Week of July 1, 2007, contains the two part article "Advertising Mascots"

Total Television (TTV) 07/12/2007

There No Need to Fear...Underdog is Here 08/06/2007

Week of August 12, contains the four part article "African Americans in Comic Books"2007

Cinema Killed the Radio Star: How Elvis Presley's Movies Nearly Ended His Career 08/22/2007

Superman's Pal, the Smut Monger 08/29/2007

The Horror Movies of Val Lewton 10/20/2007

Vincent Price 10/28/2007

Mutt and Jeff Turn 100 11/15/2007

The Week of November 18, 2007, includes the articles " Tomorrow is Thanksgiving...Who Needs Pilgrims." "Boris Karloff's 120th Birthday," and "Black Friday"

The Week of Yule, 2007, contains the articles "Father Christmas," "Santa Claus," and " When TV Cartoons Become Live-Action Movies..." ()

The Week of December 20, 2007, contains the four part article "A History of Power Pop"

The Week of January 13, 2008, contains the two part article " Aurora: the Company That Monsters Built...And Destroyed"

Doc Savage Turns 75 03/01/2008

Home is Where the Heart Is....Even on Television 03/17/2008

Winnie the Pooh 05/10/2008

Recreating New York 05/23/2008


Jeremy Barker said...

Congrats on five years, Mercurie. I'm amazed to be approaching that milestone as well. I've always been impressed your focus. You know what your blog is about and you hew to it. I tend to wander aimlessly.

I too have been looking for a three-column blogger template and it looks like there are many available by outside designers. If I find a decent site I will let you know.

Happy anniversary!

Mercurie said...

Thanks for the comments, Jeremy!

Anyway, I definitely would like to find a new three column template. After all, I've had this one for a while...