Sunday, July 26, 2009

Talking with Ann of Ann's Mega Dub

Ann Wilson is a Common Ills community member, Cedric's wife, and the newest blogger in the community. Her site is Ann's Mega Dub.


Jim: Okay, first things first, the title?

Ann: Being married to Cedric, I thought I would do a play on his title, Cedric's Big Mix. So I came up with Ann's Little Dub. And I told Cedric that and he said, "No, no. Mega. Mega dub." I had thought of that for about two seconds. But then I thought, "Cedric's Big Mix" and "Ann's Mega Dub"? Someone's going to think I'm trying to compete or that we are competing. Cedric said someone will think that anyway and "mega" works better with the title. "Dub" as in make a "dub tape," same as a "mix tape."

Dona: I would have said first thing is why start a blog?

Ann: Ruth was in Japan for the month of June and I filled in for her. There was a schedule created where a number of us were going to fill in for her. I had one day. Then I started getting very nervous about it and ended up asking if I could do my days all in the same week. And if I could go first. I don't know about you, but in class when it was time to give a speech, I always went first. I always volunteered. I knew if I was merely boring, by the time the last person went, I would have been forgotten. But if I went last and was boring? Oh no. So everyone said, sure go ahead. So I grabbed the first week and then, over that weekend, I was helping out here and I had already raised the issue with C.I. -- who was supposed to grab a day -- about how I thought I could do a second week. So I raised it here with everyone that Saturday night and everyone was fine with it. I ended up doing all four weeks and having a blast. And then I went right over to Mike's website to fill in for him for a week while he and Elaine were in Hawaii. My last day of filling in for Mike, I wanted to announce my own site.

Jess: Because?

Ann: The minute I filled in for Ruth, and she told me this would happen, the e-mails started coming in asking me if I'd do my own site. I put them off because I was having fun and thought I'd decide later. I kept telling people, I have to blog for Mike in July and, after that, I'll make a decision. So when I decided I wanted to do it, I figured it made more sense to announce it at Mike's site than to wait a bit and then announce it. People were curious and since I'd decided, it just seemed like I'd be playing coy not to announce it.

Ty: But why did you decide to blog?

Ann: I had fun. I really did. And I liked the idea that I was amplifying the Iraq snapshots. Iraq is off the radar and just amplifying the snapshots helps me feel like I did something, a little something.

Jess: Filling in for Ruth and Mike, you often tackled heavy subjects. Obviously, you wrote about your rape and abortion. But even setting aside those topics, you still were doing a look at the current events and press. At your own site, you're doing something different.

Ann: Right. As I noted, I enjoy Isaiah's site where he archives his old comics. And what I had in mind, what I thought I could handle, was doing a photo blog. Or illustrations. So each time I blog, I'm just tossing up a photo or an illustration and writing about that. It's not hard hitting. I may do some harder stuff in the future. But I want to be really clear in the early days that this isn't the second coming of C.I. I love what C.I. does but I'm never doing an entry, for example, that has 100 links.

C.I.: Well let's mention your posts. "Iraq," "Angelina Jolie," "Nouri and Barry," "Painted
Hillary Clinton and Aamir Khan" and "Isaiah's draws Barack and his teleprompter." They're more conversational in style than they are 'light' posts. To me anyway. You are tackling some issues.

Ann: That's true. And I'm trying to take them to a basic level that we can all hopefully relate to. With Angelina Jolie, for example, that was my most recent post, I was just appalled at all these gossip sites and newspaper gossip columnists attacking her. So I wanted to go back to the first Goodwill Ambassador I saw and how she effected me.

Ava: You supported Hillary in the Democratic Party primary and you voted for Ralph Nader in the general election. Any thoughts when you look back on 2008 about the whole drawn out process?

Ann: Just one. Amy Goodman was yacking it up with Howard Dean and giving him credit for a fifty-state campaign and saying how great it was for the Democratic Party. Uh, reality: Hillary gave the fifty-state campaign -- plus Puerto Rico. And she did that by staying in the race even when everyone was attacking her, every pundit calling for her to drop out. In the general election, Barack did not go to all fifty states. Only in the primary. And credit for that goes to Hillary, not Howard Dean.

Dona: Agreed. You're really shy which surprises me. But we asked you for an interview last week and you said no but maybe some other time. Now the only way we got this one was by Cedric suggesting we just make it the Third gang. He said he thought you'd be open to it if we limited the number of people participating. Why is that?

Ann: I don't really have that much to say and the idea that I was going to be able to be even a little interesting for everyone's questions? Maybe I can say something of interest for a question or two here but that's it. That's funny, by the way, that Cedric suggested it. I didn't know that. He was right though.

Jim: While you were filling in for Ruth, Betty, Wally and Cedric did a joint-post and asked you if you wanted to join them. You turned them down. Not out of shyness and not because the topic didn't interest you but because you felt their needed to be a bit of a line between your work and Cedric's. That's how I understood it. Do I have that right and, if so, why did you want that line?

Ann: You summed it up correctly. Cedric and I are married and we don't need to entangle our online work. I just think that would be crowding. Cedric does what he does very well. He and Wally have become team bloggers and I listen to Cedric while he's on the phone with Wally and they always have so much fun. Not only can I see Cedric laughing but I can usually hear Wally laughing over the phone. And that's their thing and I don't want to get into that and I also fear that my suggestion wouldn't prompt that kind of laughter from Cedric. And why do I need that? Why do I need to put myself through that, you know?

Ty: How easy or hard was it to create your site? I'm talking choosing templates, adding links, etc.

Ann: Well it was hard. I had C.I. talking me through and, near the end, Cedric started helping me as well because I couldn't get certain things to work. If it was just me or just me with C.I. on the phone, I'd assume I was misunderstanding something. But Cedric knows Blogger/Blogspot and he couldn't get stuff to work, so it was hard. It wasn't until the middle of last week when C.I. called and asked, "Is your password still the same?" and I said it was that C.I. went in and finally got my "About me" to show up. We couldn't figure that out when we set the blog up, not C.I., not Cedric, not me. At one point, Cedric was saying it was the illustration I was using that was preventing it and I just needed to lose the illustration but I said no way to that.

C.I.: That's the illustration that Betty's kids did. Which we're using in this piece. And you wrote about that in "Painted." But that was a post you could have done your first day. You explained why you weren't going to make that your first post, on the phone you explained it, and I thought you might want to share that here.

Ann: Sure. I really didn't want my first post to be, "Look at the picture of me!" I'm praising Betty's kids -- who earned it -- in the post I did write. But even so, I could see how some people might read it and think, "Oh, she's really stuck on herself, isn't she?" And I just didn't want to give that impression. So I waited.

C.I.: Which goes to your modesty. You blogged Monday through Friday last week but that's not necessarily going to be your schedule.

Ann: Right. Cedric told me that when you're new people need to know who you are. And I checked with Betty and Elaine about that and they both agreed. Betty used to do a comic online novel at her site and was really doing one post a week or two. And she talked about how long it took her to feel like she had enough people reading to justify her continuing.

Ava: Every one is more than willing to help out each other, as you know. But I find it interesting how often you are reaching out to everyone but Cedric. Jess and I are a couple, for example. And we also have clear lines on what we mix on and what we don't. By contrast, Dona and Jim spill over into everything.

Ann: Well I just don't want it to be, and I think this is why you and Jess have lines, where our relationship is, "Honey, what did you blog?" You know? If he reads it, great, if not, fine. But we've got a relationship offline and I don't want it to be confusing.

Jess: Do you read him?

Ann: No, I usually do not. But that's because I'm usually in the room while he's on the phone with Wally. They take turns typing it up, by the way, their joint entry. Now I've heard them pitch topics and then pitch jokes. Then they start writing. And I'm hearing Cedric through all of this and, if Wally's on speaker, him through it all. If he's not on speaker, I'm just hearing him when he gets excited. So I've heard their joint-post. And if Cedric's typing, if it's his turn, after he has it typed out, he reads it outloud to Wally. So I've already heard it and laughed at it.

Jim: As Ava said, Dona and I have no clear lines, we spill over. I'm laughing. But my question is, you're taking all these steps which you presumably hope will prevent conflict. Do you think it's possible that you and Cedric might have a fight over something online?

Ann: I'm not sure what you're asking. I take these precautions to avoid us getting into an argument over online things. But are you asking do I think that, even with the precautions, Cedric and I could have a fight over online items?

Jim: Yes.

Ann: Sure. We're a married couple. We can -- and have -- argued over anything.

Dona: Last question, what's your goal online?

Ann: That's a hard one. The answer is, again, to repost the snapshot and hopefully get at least one more person aware of what's going on in Iraq. I'd like to, ideally, move to covering an Iraq topic at least once a week. Ideally. I'm not comfortable there yet but hopefully.

Jess: Last question. Sorry, Dona, but we need to end on Iraq because it's a big issue and it's a big issue with Ann.

Dona: I stand corrected.

Jess: The war's not ended. It drags on. I run a peace group and come to you to ask how we can get people motivated to call for an end to the illegal war? Your advice to me is what?

Ann: Start acting like an adult. Stop offering praise for Barack. Stop hedging your bets. Barack is not a friend of the peace movement. Barack is the president. As such he needs to feel the full fury of the peace movement. He does not need soft kisses or warm hugs. He needs to be held accountable the same way Bush was, the same way LBJ was, the same way Richard Nixon was. The peace movement needs to stop acting as if they and Barack are in the same corner. They're not. He wants to continue the war, we want to end it. We are in opposition and we need to stop trying to pretend otherwise.
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