Sirf Ek Hai - There can be only one?
I intended to start this with a brief bio and then move on to the point of the post. When I tried, however, it became clear that the two are inseparable. That's because the issue that prompted this post has taken several years to assume an identifiable form and can't be explained in isolation from the experiences of those years. Also, if I ever had an internal editor, he died decades ago, so consider yourself warned.

I'm Kiwi born and bred, raised for the first eight years of my life by my Anglo-Indian sole parent father, living next door to an Indo-Fijian Gujarati family. So, although I'm not Indian and have never been to India, I've grown up with India always a part of my experience. I think it's safe to say that not too many gora primary (elementary) school kids in the provincial New Zealand town I grew up in the 70s knew the difference between chappati and parathe, could count to 10 in Urdu, instinctively heard and spelled "partition" with a capital P (I still do), had a father who insisted that the only proper utensils for eating curry and rice are fingers, or attended gender-segregated screenings of Indian language films. India is part of who I am, just as Partition is why I am.

So, although I don't make any claims to be Indian, or an insider, I'm not entirely a typical outsider either. I neither sneer at India with the smug superiority of the xenophobe (or the orientalist), nor drool over it, looking at Bhaarat Maa through gulabi glasses.I love the land in which I was born, the only part of the planet I've ever lived in, but I have no affection for, or fealty to, the geopolitical entity which issued my passport. I also perceive the republic of India as overcrowded, corrupt, riddled with gross inequities perpetuated on the basis of wealth, caste, creed and (especially) gender, and growing a frighteningly virulent, rabid patriotism. Even though I've never been, I believe it to be dirty and smelly and chaotic and frustrating. I also know that I would really, really, really like to be able to make use of my eligibility for OCI and live there for a while.

I first got into Hindi films seriously about eight years ago, when I decided to teach myself Hindi. The first three that I remember consciously choosing to watch myself were Lagaan, Earth:1947 and K3G. Since then, I've built a small collection of around 85 Hindi movies, and probably watched another 250 or so. Over that same period of time. I've done quite a bit of one-on-one tuition and mentoring with different members of a Panjabi family I've come to know quite well.

All of this exposure to North Indian culture has been enriching. I've learned a lot more about Indian food, and culture, and have been privileged to have been largely accepted by many of my town's desi community as at least an honorary "gora Hindustani". Perhaps 5% of my town's population is Panjabi, and many of them have become friends to varying degrees. This has meant lots of good food, good music, help with my Hindi and Panjabi and a deeper, more realistic understanding of India, albeit from afar. It is has also left me wondering about an interesting feature of desi fandom.

In many aspects of its culture, India is famously syncretic. Despite the sectarian divisions and the blood spilled in the name of religion, syncretism is deeply embedded in Indian faiths, with an enquiring interest in different belief systems being common (my Dad's father made a hobby of studying India's religions as he travelled around what is now Pakistan in his railways career). Likewise, Indic languages are as welcoming of imports as their distant English cousin - "shuddh" Hindi being about as mythical a beast as "pure" English, and Hindi movies, or at least filmi songs, are often really Hinjabi. Much is made of India's tolerance of diversity, and there is much that supports that claim. Which brings me to the point.

All generalisations are dangerous. That said, it does seem that in many areas of life, Indian enthusiasms are extremely exclusive. The primary focus of this observation relates to Bollywood fandom, and the way in which this exclusivity marks that fandom as different from cinematic fandom outside India. Before I expand on that, though. It's worth noting that this extreme exclusivity is not confined to filmi fandom. If cricket is India's national religion, then even in the pantheon of the first 11, it seems that being a real fan of one player requires that one contemn all the others. YouTube comments are infamous for being vitriolic and vicious, but even there Indo-Pakistani arguments set new lows in reflecting this mindset that praising anything requires condemning everything else. It's not just a cross-border issue, either. I still remember my shock at hearing two young Muslim friends of mine from Poona denigrating Kerala's literacy rates. This young couple were urbane , well-educated and amiable, and quite ferociously patriotic Indians. I had raised the subject of Kerala's literacy rate in a complimentary fashion, and expected them to praise it as an Indian success story. Instead they derided it, saying, "that doesn't count because it's only in Malayalam". To them, the only literacy that counted was in English or Hindi. Conversations with my Panjabi friends on a range of topics have often brought up other instances where praising something to do with India was inextricably linked with belittling or attacking somewhere else.

Those examples aside my most in-depth exposure to the way in which Indians express enthusiasms has been in the area of Hindi cinema. In this field, the notion that enthusiasm requires exclusivity seems to be axiomatic. If you're REALLY a Rafi fan, Mukesh is muck, and Talat is trash. If you're a Lata fan, Asha is just a wannabe, a reproach on her didi's fame. If you are a true Dev Anand devotee, any Kapoor is crap.

The comparisons I just made reflect my own strong preference for Hindi movies from the 50s and 60s. Although I don't have much experience with films from the 70s or 80s, I do know that the same exclusive devotion is evident among fans of those decades. I also know that it is very definitely in evidence among fans of films from the 90s onwards.

From childhood I have been a contrarian, and this trait has manifested itself in my filmi preferences. I am an Asha fan through and through. I like Esha Deol, and Deepa Mehta ("Fire" is still the ONLY depiction of Sita's Agni Pariksha that I don't find repellently and intolerably misogynistic), and I can use both to illustrate the issue:

Esha is probably not a great actress, and I don't know enough about Indian classical dance to know whether she is really any good at Odissi. But I do think that the fact that she trained in such a demanding discipline reflects well on her dedication and motivation, and filmi actresses with a dance background are very rare these days. Despite this, when she was active in films, and even now, she is still the subject of viciously personal attacks. Nothing she does is exempt from crude, hateful commentary that goes beyond even the scorn heaped on her brother Bobby.

Likewise, Deepa Mehta's films are controversial, and it is easy to understand why her particular perspective on Indian culture is so unpopular in India. Earth was notable not only for Nandita stealing my fan heart (and never giving it back), but also for being my first introduction to the filmi expression of the defensive nature of this exclusivity. What I find hard to understand is the often heard dismissal of Mehta as being "not Indian". While that's technically true in terms of citizenship, the idea that someone who was born, raised and educated in India, and did not leave to live elsewhere until after completing university, is a foreigner with no right to comment, seems bizarre.

At around the same time that Esha made her first foray into films, Kareena Kapoor was also relatively new in the industry, and she too was another favourite villain. Jumping forward a decade, we have Katrina Kaif, castigated and pilloried for everything and anything she does, but especially it seems for being prepared to do whatever it takes to achieve her ambitions, and above for all for daring to be firangi and successful, despite bad Hindi. That last (firangi and bad bad Hindi) stirred something atavistic in my A-I soul, predisposing me to like and defend her.

The two key elements that strike me as different about expressions of fan support in the realm of Hindi cinema are the ferocity of personal animus and the way that such contempt is seemingly viewed as a requisite to prove your worth or merit as a true fan of whoever it is you support. I have been a member of one large Bollywood forum for many years and have read and commented on many different Bollywood blogs. In all of these venues, both of these distinguishing features of Bollywood fandom are clearly on display.

It seems that true Bollywood fandom involves twin rites of passage: first, pick your idol. Next attack anyone and everyone else. The first step is of course intrinsic to fandom, by definition. The second appears to be unique to Indian fandom. In blogs, on the one forum I frequent, among my many Panjabi friends ,and on twitter, Desi fandom is almost universally paired with ad hominem attacks on those perceived to be rivals to the object of that fandom.

This exclusive devotion manifests itself with a selectivity of criticism, that is amusing to an uncommitted fan. Katrina Kaif is pilloried for being an outsider who got to the top by cynical and allegedly amoral manipulation of personal contacts and rumours of other behaviour considered disreputable. She is further mocked for cosmetic surgery and for being single-mindedly wrapped up in achieving her ambitions. The same actions taken by others are considered permissible, the same sorts of rumours made about others (for example SRK) are considered cause for a thermonuclear flame war.

It's not the monocular devotion to an idol that I find unique to Indian fandom, that's part of what being a real fan is all about. It's the idea that such devotion, requires truly vicious personal attacks on others, that anyone working in the same field as your idol is by definition a rival, a threat, and someone to be taken down. This even manifests itself in the promotional campaigns and launch date machinations and contortions, all of which reflect an assumption that people will only go ONE film on an opening weekend and/or that if they don't go to it on the opening/holiday weekend they won't go at all.

What makes this Desi exclusivity particularly interesting is the way that it seems to be contagious, even for non-Desis. On the Bollywood forum I frequent , even neophyte Bollywood fans from many different countries quickly get into the habit of being spiteful and nasty about those who are not the object of their devotion. One fairly recent member is a devoted fan of Madhuri Dixit and seems like an amiable and pleasantly spoken person, except when Katrina is mentioned. Then malice and viciousness that seem uncharacteristic are the norm. All this from someone with no personal ties to India and less than 12 months experience of serious BW fandom. Likewise, some non-Desi bloggers have, in addition to their personal favourites, selected one or more filmi personalities as their targets of choice, and never miss an opportunity to attack them. This has caused me some difficulties in the past, as I have occasionally made the mistake of attempting to discuss the inconsistencies inherent in this approach with its exponents. For example, querying why Katrina's changing her name is somehow sinister when few BW stars haven't done so.Or why Esha (and again Katrina) exploiting family connections to get a start is evil when the entire industry is an insider's club/khandan. Fandom is a faith, and as an many expressions of faith, rationality plays little part.

If anyone at all has made it here, to this final paragraph. I can only say, did you have nothing better to do? Nevertheless, your masochistic devotion to finishing this amorphous ramble is appreciated. Any comments or expressions on this notion that Desi fandom, and particularly Desi filmi fandom has a uniquely exclusive quality, will be even more greatly appreciated. Salaam alaikum, noho ora mai, and bahut, bahut shukriya!

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Wow! Great first post and welcome to LJ. :)

Not to be a negative nelly but this selective bashing is common to many different fandoms. Team Edward fans hate everything about Jacob and vice versa. Hermione/Harry fans hate Hermione/Ron fans... Backstreet Boys fans hated N*Sync fans and as for East Asian media... wow. You will not believe the flame wars that get started over the latest actress who dared play the "other woman" in a TV drama opposite a popular couple.

What I think is unique about Indian film fandom is the devotion to their idols, especially in South India. The large cut-outs, the prayers, etc... It's really pretty amazing.

Thanks so much for the reply. I don't consider your comment negative at all, I do have very little experience with cinematic fandom outside of BW, all things vampire and Hogwarts being of precisely zero interest to me. My perception has been shaped by reading youtube comments and IMDb message boards, where the difference I describe above seems quite noticeable.

It's really not unique to Bollywood fans.

This was a recent incident where fans in Korea actually went and graffittied an actress's house because they didn't like her being linked up with their favorite idol.

That's interesting, and it may also reflect a lack of clarity in my attempts to express my point. Crazed fans attacking HER for being with HIM I can relate to; Justin & Selena are having the same problem, poor kids. That's not the sort of "exclusivity" I was thinking of. The mindset I was thinking about would have seen that Korean actor's house trashed by fans of another MALE actor, for being perceived as a rival. Any attack on HER would have come not from HIS fans, but from of fans another actress. So, it wouldn't be Akki fans egging KK's house for sullying their hero, it would be Rani fans angry at her for stealing the big parts.

Oh, that happens too... an actress replaces a more popular actress in a drama and all hell breaks loose on the forums.

It's a global fan phenomenon. ;)

I just thought of a good example - in the Twilight films, when Bryce Dallas Howard took over the role of Victoria from Rachelle Lefevre, fans went CRAZY.

The haterade against Bryce was flowing...

Yes, I remember that - I'm partial to readheads, and Ms Howard is a striking specimen thereof. That sort of thing is nearer what I had in mind, but to return to the forum I referred to, the (relative) newcomer I mentioned who is toxically vicious toward KK is a truly devout and worshipful fan of Madhuri. Those two aren't rivals and never will be. I don't see that being a Madz fan requires attacking someone who is no threat, not a competitor. Going back to Hogwarts and Hollywood, that seems akin to a Julianne Moore fan attacking Emma Watson.

Fans are fans - you can be talking to somebody that you think is perfectly normal but then mention the (US sports team) the Yankees and they turn into a raging looney because they are a (rival US sports team) Red Sox supporter.

It's a worldwide phenomenon.

In the US and UK I think you find it more with sports and music than films. Remember Rolling Stones v. Beatles? Blur v. Oasis?

Nothing remotely loony about a Red Sox fan getting upset at mention of the Yankees. As an Arsenal fan, I have an affinity with the Sox, even if they did kinda steal that Arsenal classic Fever Pitch.

I liked your post, and look forward to reading more. Yeah, filmigirl's right. Fandoms the world over (Bolly and non-bolly) are pretty virulent in their love and in their hate.

Feel free to follow me too (You may remember me from such twitter accounts as @kalikaliankhen ;)) and maybe one day you'll see me hold forth on something other than writers' block! That day has not yet arrived, however ;)

Thanks, Anzac amiga. I'm increasingly thinking I've failed to make clear the distinction I see, or perhaps it's only an illusory distinction after all. It just seems to me that while it's quite possible to be a devoted fan of both Castle AND Hawaii Five-0, (to take two completely random examples out of absolutely nowhere), that's not the norm in BW. If Akki's Vin Diesel and George Clooney is Akshaye Khanna, an Anglo might be a fierce fan of both, most desi fans would pick one and loathe the other, despite the differences in genre.

You're right about desi fans. They really bring a spiritual element that doesn't exist for occidental fandoms :)

Actually, it's interesting that you bring up Castle and H50. When I happened to mention the fact that I was going to watch some H50 during the Castle hiatus to one of my Castle buddies, she said "Ooh, they're the competition". So your random examples may not be quite as random as you thought! In US primetime TV, strong allegiances are built up among fans who watch things as they go to air. Whereas we who must rely on takeaways and DVDs don't get any pressure to watch anything at any given time, and don't really lean one way or the other! That sort of thing is manipulated by the TV networks, of course. Desi fandoms are something else again.

I love that both you and Filmi Girl touched on something I avoided - the religious nature of desi fandom. I wanted to avoid the potentially inflammatory consequences of that in my first post, but my initial musings on the subject explicitly contrasted India's syncretic religions, with its religiously exclusive enthusiasms. :)

FG et al are right - fandom exists worldwide, of course it does, but I think I know what you are getting at (because we were discussing it recently on Twitter!) - the pervasive all encompassing divisiveness that seems to exist in Indian cinema as opposed to in other spheres, where fandoms appear to be more niche and surround specific films or genres (with some examples already given).

I think what you are getting at is a broader picture based on the way the industry has developed - like how in Hollywood for example, there isn't such a focus on the STAR IMAGE within films - e.g. how in every film, SRK is playing some version of SRK above all else; Akki maintains his image of the poor boy made good; Govinda is always Govinda with a certain set of generic rules that allow him to project "Govinda" as a character.

In Hollywood and other industries (someone correct me if I am mistaken) it's not so muchstar driven like that - so the focus isn't on seeing a "Brad Pitt" film over a "Tom Cruise" film - and there isn't that competition set up from the get go, audiences don't have to pick which camp they are in, and choose their allegiance. In Hindi cinema, you can sort of see that competitive aspect built in from the start - if a Sallu pic goes up against a SRK pic - even if the trailers are released at the same time, the star image thing is there driving that competition and the fandom.

Thanks, nesspi. I think you've encapsulated the main reason for the difference, one I hadn't thought of properly:
"in every film, SRK is playing some version of SRK above all else; Akki maintains his image of the poor boy made good; Govinda is always Govinda with a certain set of generic rules that allow him to project "Govinda" as a character."

As you say, that makes sense of the exclusivity, and why a Sallu pic opening against an SRK pic would be considered competition, when their Anglo equivalents would not, but would be targetting different markets.

This was such an interesting read! And so well articulated.

However I, like some of the others, do not think that this observation of fiercely denigrating the competition of your idol is exclusive to desi filmi fandom. One example where this is quite common is tennis fandom - I've heard many anecdotes from my brother, who frequents such forums, of Nadal, Roger and Andy fans caustically criticizing and mocking every move of tennis players that are considered their favourite's rival. Some fans apparently don't see how you can appreciate both Federer and Nadal. And those posters do get pretty personal about the players they are ragging on.

So yeah, from actor bashing to charactcer bashing - I feel I've seen it or known it to happen in other fandoms too. Doctor Who, for example. Christopher Eccleston vs David Tennant vs Matt Smith is another debate that sometimes gets ugly.

Thanks, never_evil. I guess all the replies have really confirmed it beyond a shadow of a doubt: The problem was not unfamiliarity with desidom, but with fandom. To all of you for taking the time to enlighten me, many thanks!

Madhulika Liddle, author of The Englishman's Cameo (if you haven't read it, do!) was kind enough to send a comment to me after LJ's technical difficulties prevented her posting it here:
I was reminded of some of the early comments I received on my blog, Stuart... I remember drawing up a list ('Ten of my favourite Bollywood actresses') - listed for beauty, mainly, not acting ability. (Mark the word 'MY favourite'). Some of the comments I got were so vitriolic and downright foul that I had to delete them - I refused to have such fury vented on my blog. I can't understand this need to pull down other people's preferences, simply because you have your own. And should anybody - actor, singer, MD, (writer?!), be judged in such a general way? I think each person has their faults AND their virtues. So, while I may not often like Raj Kapoor, I do concede that Teesri Kasam was a superb film - and he was excellent in it.

Tolerance. Much more tolerance...

Thanks to @asimburney from for also trying to comment here:
Great post & very interesting read!

I do find the intro to your post very thought-provoking coming from sort of an outsider-pov to the desi culture and peering inside is always fun to read.
Like you I wasn't raised in Pakistan (or India=let's just equate them for arguments sake)so I was always trying to analyze behavior & try to understand it. But my family was very much like DDLJ's Amrish Puri where we created a little Pakistan in our adopted countries, only watching Desi movies & speaking Urdu at home.
I had my teen years of rebellion where i wanted nothing to do with my heritage considering it backward & hypocritical,to later on my Malcolm X years where everything white was evil as it was built on the fortunes amassed by slavery & colonialism.I am happy to have reached a happy medium now where i can hate on both sides :-)
So this is my perspective, not more valuable than any other as there are so many.
A few things I have figured out which may clarify how Bollyfandom works. None of these traits are unique, you find them with all races but added with the desi sense of melodrama they take a more epic proportion.
Desis use language according to their emotion & don’t necessarily mean what they say. Let me use a positive example.My French wife noticed this in me when she said:"Do you know how many times you've said that is your FAVORITE song or your FAVORITE movie growing up? That's impossible,the word favorite implies there is only 1" She is completely right,I meant to tell her i loved something but expressed it like a proper desi.
So wishing a bloody death to all SRK fans doesn’t necessarily mean that exactly, its just a way of saying:I don’t care much for this Shah Rukh chap

Desiness in entrenched in plurality & deals with it by calling it out: If the US is a melting pot, India & Pakistan are cultural Lego Boxes(in the US everything just melts into becoming American) Different races, languages, religions really like side by side in desi land.
So they address each other with those differences without malice. We had a Chinese lady who had a grocery store in Karachi. Everybody used to call her Chini Aunty, in any other country this would be highly inappropriate but when asked, she said was raised in Pakistan & really didn’t mind, and even if she did, she got over it.
I know our friend FilmiGirl made a comment recently on her blog about Sonakshi Sinha's weight being a joke during the shooting of Joker, but this is normal everyday fun, which I can totally imagine. Someone in every desi family is always called moti or Kaali or in my case Lamboo (i'm really not tall) or my dad's favorite chapti naak (squished nose... again,not).At every family function your aunt will point out if youve lost weight or gained weight during the first minute she sees you in front of everybody, the word for word translation to English would be "Youve become fat" but in Urdu it's just day to day conversation
Point 3
The Desi national sport of teasing:this is a unique phenomenon I've never seen in any country to this extent.Youths mostly but this is done by uncle-types,aunties,girls,anyone will just hang about & tease/bully each other.
I put the slash in as it is beyond teasing but not bullying as non desis would understand, more like pushing ones buttons for the sake of fun.In a Hindi movie this is the moment where goons would take it too far with the hero's sister & then get a trashing (if it was Rohit Shetty, there would be many wires involved).But at our home it happens at the dinner table too.Sometimes you take it too far and someone ends up crying. but never is an apology given, you just move on with your life.(see point 2)

So when you combine all 3 points you get the Bollywood fan.
It is closely associated with the sport fan, where you pick a team, stick with it through thick and thin and keep track of the scores. You tease others & push their buttons, you troll websites & usually take it a step too far (the anonymity of the net has really not helped here, but that is the case on AICN or Slashfilm boards too ie Cool story bro). Sometimes you win, sometimes you end up crying...but whatever happens, the next day , you just get on with life again.

I've been endlessly debating wth myself whether or not to comment on this blog post but well...I thought I'd articulate this just so I can think it out better.

My comment relates to the (inadvertant) regionalism of the Indian fandom. At a general level, everyone (irrespective of which ethnic region of India they belong to) tend to have general likes and dislikes that cut across regional borders.

But that's not fandom, is it? Fandom is more passionate than general likes and dislikes - and here's where I have seen that unconscious regionalism creep in. I'll give just two examples to illustrate my point:
(i) I am yet to come across any Bengali who would prefer Kishore Kumar over Mohd Rafi (even though the said Bengali may passionately like several Rafi songs).
(ii) I have not seen any Allahabadi who would choose Shahrukh Khan over Amitabh Bachchan (even though said Allahabadi watches every SRK film first day first show).

This, I guess, is another facet of the irrationality of fandom - you may actually like someone but you say you like someone else just because that other person belongs to your "group".

Thanks so much for your comment, alfaazi, and I'm really glad you both decided to contribute, and that you were able to do so. I wonder if you could clarify the Kishore/Rafi example you mentioned. Rafi was Panjabi, snd Kumar Bangla, but you say that you have "yet to meet any Bengali who WOULD prefer Kumar over Rafi"? This has me a bit confused, I'm sorry.

Can I edit my comment? :-)

*red ears* Okay, that's an error. There's a missing 'not' there. Let's turn that into a non-negative sentence. It shoudl read:
I am yet to meet a Bengali who would prefer Rafi over Kishore.

Interesting post! And I didn't know you had a blog either! :) But thanks to your wonderful post on Pyaasa over at TBF's (that I read nodding my head in approval at every paragraph, especially the ones about Johhny Walker :D), now I know!

Of course I know exactly where all this is coming from, which makes it sort of an amusing read to me, and I do agree with most of your points. My only objection, or not even, maybe better called addition to your thoughts on the topic of fandom, is that not all hate vis-a-vis an actor, actress or director is caused by their existing or made-up rivalries. I for one have a serious aversion for certain directors or actors and it's not because they are rivals of other actors I love, but because I just... well... think they suck. For reasons that for some I can explain and for some I just can't put my finger on, but I know for a fact they have nothing to do with whoever the media decided to compare them to. I'm sure there are many people that see it the same way, and in fact it seems almost impossible to have a hobby where you only have likes and no dislikes. It's a truism that the more you know about a topic, the more opinionated you will be, for better or worse, or am I wrong? The more you become a fan of such a diverse industry, the more you discover that there are items in it that you heavily dislike. Maybe that's what you perceive as "contempt [that] is seemingly viewed as a requisite to prove your worth or merit as a true fan of whoever it is you support". Surely you have your own set of dislikes, I would be very surprised if you didn't.

I attribute the hate more to a third party that is indeed more vicious in India than in other parts of the world: the media. It would be interesting to really look into whether this fan-hate business actually comes from the fans and how much of it is induced by the media. I suspect that a lot of it has to do with the media pitching actors and actresses against each other which then causes people to take sides. The most recent example of this is a series of articles I was reading about Imran vs Ranbir back when Mere Brother Ki Dulhan and Rockstar were scheduled to come out on the same day. All of a sudden a whole series of details were brought up to illustrate the "rivalry" between them, a rivalry I had never heard of before (and have not heard of since either). But just you watch how this will come back the next time they're both nominated for the same award or whatever other similar situation. I think that's what prompts fans to take sides to begin with, more so than an inner need to hate on everyone that is *not* your favourite dude or dudette. But I guess we'll never know because the latter is almost impossible to prove while the former is so tightly knit around any kind of news about a film or an actor that it's hard to fight being manipulated most of the times.

Dolce & Namak

Excellent points you raise, Dolce, you too, Namak. Thank you both so much for persevering and helping me figure LJ out a bit better! I'd love to pretend that I'm a highly evolved soul well above the sort of dislikes you mention, but of course it ain't so. SLB movies are anathema to me, and so is KJo's publc persona, especially in the unspeakably awful KwK.

I also agree very strongly about the media's role in "rivalries" and the like. This does seem to be a uniquely Indian thing, as is the now obligatory "are they, aren't they a joDi?" story with every lead pairing in every film. Or at least that is how it seems to me.

Should I stay or should I go?

I think LJ is a bit beyond me, so I'm going to try the simpler, more open waters of Blogger, from now on,

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