Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Understanding your sidebar

As much as a blogger might reveal in postings, I find that sidebars are often a better window into the thinking and the attitude of a blog. I've been working on my sidebar lately and have been adding various elements to it in the past month. It is, I suppose, a form of decorating; some blogs I read regularly have striking visuals - Uncle Ben over at Hammerswing is currently doing some really neat stuff for the holidays. I don't really have the technical chops to do much other than tack stuff up on the side. It was the same approach I took to decorating my dorm room years ago - one year I had vintage travel posters that I stole from my dad, another year I went out and bought Picasso prints, the next I put up a bunch of sports pennants.

Sidebars can be a measure of things, or people, that we value. The bloggers and other links that I've gathered in the "Me Gusta" section are people whose work I admire. We are fortunate in Minnesota to have a strong blogging population and every link that I've posted is someone that I strongly recommend.

I've lately added some images on the sidebar as well; while the images are a bit distorted (again, my technical chops aren't so good), but the three faces you see are all people whom I greatly value. The first image is that of my childhood hero, Roberto Clemente. I was about the age my daughter is now when Clemente dominated the 1971 World Series, the first Series that I remember well. He was a fierce, proud and consistently exciting player and he died a tragic yet utterly noble death, attempting to bring relief to the victims of the earthquake that hit Nicaragua late in 1972.

The second image is that of the great Irish poet William Butler Yeats. Yeats was a force even as he approached the end of his long life; his verse was strong, deceptively plain-spoken yet always brimming with ideas and passion.

The third is. . . Bob Newhart? Doesn't seem to fit, does it? But it does. As much as I admire firebrands like Clemente or Yeats, I've never been one myself. Can't really pull it off. But the gentle smart-aleck thing comes quite naturally. And there's never been anyone better at it than Newhart.

So here's the question. Even if you are not a blogger, you likely have a mental sidebar. Who would be three people that you'd put on your sidebar? And why?


Uncle Ben said...

Hmm, that provides me with a future theme for my own sidebar. I've been doing the "art" thing almost since I started the blog (resizing the pictures in my Paint program so that they fit), though I've changed them up a number of times.

So anyways: Winston Churchill, Martin Luther, George Washington.

Or: Sergei Rachmaninov, Johannes Brahms, Igor Stravinsky.

Or again: C.S. Lewis, Fyodor Dostoievsky, Agatha Christie.

I love your choice of WB Yeats! He is without a doubt my favorite poet. In fact, I wrote and recorded a collection of songs using his poems as lyrics.

Mark said...

So that's how you make the pictures work. I'll have to see if I have something like that on my computer so I can make the guys less distorted.

And those are great choices; I admire every name on your lists. And some day I'd love to hear your treatment of Yeats, too.

Uncle Ben said...

Hey Mr. D!

Send me your pics and I'll try to size them up for you.

hammerswing75 at yahoo dot com

Strolling Amok said...

Wow - cutting it down to three is tough. I have a lot of heroes and role models. Off the top of my head lets go with: James Madison, Jane Austin, and Martin Luther King. But I'd give you a completely different list tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Marcus Aurelius because I recognize that he is not in the first rank of ancient philosophers. However, he was a man vested with hyper powers personally, politically and martially, and yet through his philosophy, as detailed in the Meditations, he emphasized practice over theoretical arguments, and never abused his own powers. His arguments existed and were important, but they were framed within a broader conception of philosophy as a way of life. The aim was not merely to gain a rational understanding of the world but to allow that rational understanding to inform the way in which one lived.

Orwell for his honesty, his hatred of cruelty and oppression, his passion for social justice, the beauty and elegance of his prose, and his love of man and nature. After watching seven yeas of signing statements and "enhanced interrogation", I believe as time goes on, that Orwell's prescient observations become more valuable. (Yes Mark, I know he called Yeats a Fascist).

Bob Dylan, for being such a tremendously talented artist and lyricist, and especially for having the brass cajones to go electric at the height of his career.

Rich Kerwin