From WordPress, today’s Daily Prompt:  Hindsight — Now that you’ve got some blogging experience under your belt, re-write your very first post.

Oh come now. Really? I don’t even have my first post. I deleted it years ago. Does WordPress believe all its followers are baby bloggers who have written 10 posts and started blogging the day before yesterday?

Not exactly me. But, in the name of playing into the irrationality of the moment, I’m going to post my most popular ever post. I’ve rewritten it several times. It has gotten more than 11,500 hits in two versions and a couple of thousand more in other rewrites. Most of the views accumulated during the first 24 hours after I published it … more than half during the first hour or two.

Despite it being no great shakes as posts go, it went sort of viral. Go figure, right? This is a perfect example of why it’s so hard to figure out what kind of post is going to “sell.” How much research, writing craft, thought, and soul you can put into it a piece … and no one is interested. Research is irrelevant. What matters is that it catches popular fancy.

The only way you can almost guarantee popularity is to figure out what is the “latest thing” buzzing around the Internet, then write about it. Preferably with pictures. It doesn’t have to be well-written. It doesn’t have to be factual, accurate, fair, or in any way important. It absolutely doesn’t have to be original and will probably sell better if it isn’t.

If that is what you want as a blogger, good luck to you. The Internet welcomes you. Bring on your rumors, gossip, slanderous out-of-context quotes. Be sure to use, as sources, those who don’t know the difference between opinion and fact and don’t care.

Find some salacious photographs. Publish them. Don’t worry about copyright infringement because no one else seems worried about it. I won’t read you, but lots of other people will.

And now…


On Criminal Minds in the première episode for the 2012-2013 season, the “perp” sews a victims mouth shut but in his mouth leaves the message “Gazing through to the other side.” The BAU FBI team cannot find any reference to this quote. So I typed it into Google and hit Enter. Guess what?

TV Camera - 23

It’s part of a song, the lyrics to which essentially are the plot of the episode in which the first four victims are women, thrown into ditches, with their mouths sewn shut.

If I can find this in one hit on Google, is the FBI less capable than I? Unable to do the most basic Google search? There isn’t anything more basic than typing in what you want to know about then hitting Enter, is there? My granddaughter could do this kind of search before she was in first grade.

If anyone thinks I believe the FBI is actually producing the show, anyone who can chew gum and walk at the same time knows this is a network television show that employs a staff of writers to write scripts supposed to make us believe these are hyper-competent profiler/agents. And they can’t run a Google search any grade school child can run. Wow! Bad writing and plagiarism? What a terrific combination for a show about the FBI!

There could be an innocent explanation, like the real authors of the material were paid, but never credited. I’d like to hear that. It could restore a bit of my rapidly diminishing faith in humankind. Because it couldn’t be plagiarism. CBS wouldn’t allow that, right? Because networks, TV execs, writers, etc. are all so honest such a thing could never happen. And the tooth fairy left you a buck under your pillow.

The song is by a group named Blitzen Trapper, lead singer/lyricist, Eric Earley.

Thank you to Pat at CHRONICLES OF AN ANGLO SWISS for the link to the YouTube video.

The lyrics follow.

“Black River Killer”

It was just a little while past the sunset strip
They found the girl’s body in an open pit
Her mouth was sewn shut, but her eyes were still wide
Gazing through the fog to the other side
They booked me on a whim and threw me deep in jail
With no bail, sitting silent on a rusty pail
Just gazing at the marks on the opposite wall
Remembering the music of my lover’s call

So you make no mistake
I know just what it takes
To pull a man’s soul back from heaven’s gates
I’ve been wandering in the dark about as long as sin
But they say it’s never too late to start again

Oh when, oh when
Will the spirit come a calling for my soul to sin
Oh when, oh when
Will the keys to the kingdom be mine again?

It was dark as the grave, it was just about three
When the warden with his key came to set me free
They gave me five dollars and a secondhand suit
A pistol and a hat and a worn out flute

So I took a bus down to the Rio Grande
And I shot a man down on the edge of town
Then I stole me a horse and I rode it around
Til the sheriff pulled me in and sat me down

He said, you make no mistake
I know just what it takes
To pull a man’s soul back from heaven’s gates
I’ve been wandering in the dark about as long as sin
But they say it’s never too late to start again

Oh when, oh when
Will the spirit come a calling for my soul to sin
Oh when, oh when
Will the keys to the kingdom be mine again?

Well the sheriff let me go with a knife and a song
So I took the first train up to Oregon
And I killed the first man that I came upon
Because the devil works quick, you know it don’t take long

Then I went to the river ford to take a swim
You know that black river water is as black as sin
And I washed myself clean as a newborn babe
And then I picked up a rock for to sharpen my blade

Oh when, oh when
Will the spirit come a calling for my soul to sin
Oh when, oh when
Will the keys to the kingdom be mine again?
Oh when, oh when
Will that black river water wash me clean again
Oh when, oh when
Will the keys to the kingdom be mine again

It took me fewer than 10 seconds to find this. What’s going on guys? Television has become boringly derivative, but this is not merely derivative, it’s theft. I wouldn’t mind hearing from someone about this. I would like to hear an explanation.


1) According to one of the show’s producers, the show is based on the Blitzen Trapper song. The group was compensated for its use. It isn’t plagiarism, merely bad writing.

2) If the writers don’t want us to assume the same rules apply in the TV show as apply in the real world, they should not pretend the show is about FBI agents who are part of the élite unit of an actual law enforcement agency. If you don’t want to play by the rules of the real world, create a fake world where you can have stuff fall up because gravity does not exist. You cannot have it both ways, at least not if you want anyone to believe you.

3) I wrote this post September 2012 as a quick comment on what I thought was poor script writing — and un-credited use of someone else’s material. If you wish to continue arguing anyway, please feel free to argue amongst yourselves. I’d appreciate being left out of it.

4) I’ve written a follow-up post to this about morals and Hollywood. You can find it here, if you’re curious. It’s called “Gazing Through to the Other Side: Hollywood and Moral Character.” It alone has gotten more than 1200 views and it’s a better piece that the original … but that’s just my opinion and as the author, clearly I don’t know anything.

Categories: Blogging, Crime and Cops, Daily Prompt, Media, Television

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

20 replies

  1. It is a very interesting and informative pozt on FBI and I really like your grand daughter’s reference to make it more strong. The poetic touch was entertaining.
    Presently out on a trip to Gujrat with my husband, driving like crazy since 27th dec…. Shall be back on 2nd jan. Happynew near in case go out of touch. Keep inspiring.


  2. You overestimate people (students). While most of my students did not believe that at my advanced age I could even USE the Internet, most of them couldn’t figure out that all they need to do for a successful Google search was type exactly what they wanted to know in the Google search bar. Over and over I did this with them and invariably they said, “How did you find that?” Stuff like, “companies who use personality testing in hiring” — they couldn’t figure that out. They’d type in “hiring” or “personality tests” or (yes, even) “companies.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • (Heaving huge sigh.) Yes, I know what you mean. I am considered the total queen of searching because I can almost always find anything which is publicly available … anywhere. Probably because I spent most of my professional life designing or writing about data bases — and writing query languages. So I understand “search term” as a concept. I even understand “wild cards.” I try something. If it doesn’t work, I try something a little different until I get what I’m looking for or acknowledge it isn’t available. Just because all these younger people know how to use computers and live on the Internet doesn’t mean they understand anything. Mostly, for them, it’s like electricity is for us. Plug it in, it works. What else do you need to know, right?

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s not even about search terms or anything involving technology. The problem is they don’t know how to form a question. Purely and simply they cannot say, “I want to know X,” or “I don’t know X and I need to find out what it is” so they can form the question, “What is X?” It’s simply about thinking and making a question. They think if they don’t know something NO ONE knows it AND they lack curiosity.

        Liked by 1 person

        • That’s actually a little scary. When did “the stupid gene” take over the world?

          Liked by 2 people

          • It’s the “No Child Left Behind” educational dynamic that equates the ability to get the right answer on multiple choice tests with the acquisition of skills and knowledge. I hate it and it made students I could not teach because they were antipathetic to school and had no desire to learn and saw a challenge as a threat. It’s OK. They will serve the machine well.

            Liked by 1 person

            • I would hate being in school these days. I loved school as a kid. Of course, any place that wasn’t home was fine with me … but even better, someplace to learn, with books was great. I used to be embarrassed when everyone was complaining that summer was ending and school was coming back because I was HAPPY about it. But I couldn’t say that out loud 🙂 Now, I would not be so happy, I think.

              Liked by 1 person

              • We would’ve been friends as kids, I think. No, I don’t think most kids like school these days. I’ve had students say, “This is the first time I’ve liked school” once they’re sophomores in college. It’s REALLY sad.

                Liked by 1 person

  3. Good advice about pointing what NOT to do as a blogger. I wouldn’t rewrite my first post, either — I’d rather have it stand as an example of how my blog has evolved and grown over the years I’ve been blogging.

    From what I see, the Freshly Pressed posts seem to be a mix of humor, some commentary on news/seasonal events and some highly original and meaningful posts. Maybe it’s just down to a whim of whoever did the picking. I think both of my two Freshly Pressed posts were picked for their humor — I know for a fact that the second one was selected for that reason since the notification e-mail mentioned that WP liked my lighthearted approach to the topic (comic stories about things that happened at church).

    I may try the Daily Prompt sometime. Just to see what it’s like.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “Maybe it’s just down to a whim of whoever did the picking. ” That certainly applied to my Freshly Pressed. It was not a good example of my writing — or anyone’s writing. Having won for my least favorite post of all time, I figure I need not worry about ever winning again. Nor do I really care any more. I did, won, and now I don’t. It isn’t the Oscar or even an Emmy. Definitely not a Pulitzer. Garry has three Emmy’s and his brother just got his first .. and both of them have commented that the work that won them the award(s) was not the work of which they are most (or particularly) proud. I think that’s the way of the world. Garry interviewed a lot of stars over the years, many of whom had won Oscars and most of them felt that their best work had gone largely unnoticed. Awards are what they are, but I’m not sure what that is.

      I do know that popularity alone would not make me happy. I could not write only things that would bring in a lot of hits for no better reason than to collect big numbers in my statistical base.

      I think you missed “the good old days” on the Daily Prompt. Maybe they’ll put an editor on there who has some imagination … or not. I think they are going in a different direction, focusing on commercial bloggers who bring $$$$ to them rather than individual bloggers. Even those of us who are technically “premium” users — we aren’t the market they are looking for. They want to make more money and they do not see us as the way to do it.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. My very first post (written as a guest on my daughter’s blog, and then reposted later on my blog) was actually the best post I’ve ever written. No way would I rewrite that one!


    • I wish I could say the same. My first post was just a test of the waters. I’d never written a blog before and was still trying to figure out if I was going to like it. I didn’t get the hang of it until months later.


  5. Love the advice at the beginning – my photos have the ©, I don’t do the © on my blogs because I could not imagine that anyone in their right mind would want to steal them. I did have the FBI Most Wanted site as a Screen saver on my computer when I was working, I never asked the company and I do not really think they knew what it was. Otherwise I save my prompts, yes, they are distributed across a landscape of three computers. I do not really know why, but you never know. And look what I found:
    not a bad song as they go. you got me curious, worth a freshly pressed and hero of the WordPress.


    • That was the post that put me on the map, so to speak. It was weird, really. I wrote it in the middle of the show during a commercial break. Took me less than 5 minutes. Before the show was over, I had gotten more than a thousand hits.

      I thought it was an error. But every time the show ran again, here or in England or Canada, I got another thousand or more hits. Every time I write about a popular current television show, I get a LOT of hit. It doesn’t matter whether or not I say anything new, exciting, or even (in my opinion) interesting. All it has to do have have a search term in it like “NCIS” or “Criminal Minds” and voila! I guess that’s why pop culture sites do so well.

      WP doesn’t recognize MERE success. You could have a million views and never get them to acknowledge you.

      You have to (as you know) catch some editor’s attention and why that happens is totally random. It has nothing to do with whether or not you’ve written something good. My “Freshly Pressed” was for one of the few pieces I’m embarrassed I ever wrote at all. I have never rerun it, never linked to it. I’d just as soon forget it. It has a ton of hits, so I can’t delete it. It’s a cautionary tale for me, reminding me that just because I can win an award doesn’t mean I am doing good work.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for the link!! I added it to the post. They’ve actually gotten a lot more popular and lot less obscure since I originally wrote this piece. Maybe I had something to do with that? They never got any credit on the show.

      Liked by 1 person


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