Help Me Move! (No Heavy Lifting Required) 

After nearly nine years, I’ll be retiring the Blog of the Courtier in the near future. Now don’t panic, because I’ll still be writing. But it’s time for a change – and I need your help.

I began blogging back in the mists of time, when I taught myself HTML during law school and started my first web site. Later I launched this blog on Blogger, and then switched to WordPress several years later. Over the years I’ve built up a loyal group of readers, who appreciate my (often overwrought) musings on this, that, and quite a bit of the other, and from whom I’ve learned a great deal.

Yet I’m very much aware that I’ve plateaued.

If you’ve ever lifted weights or played a musical instrument, then you know that at some point, you reach a level where everything stays the same. You don’t have to try so hard, and things come pretty easily. That leaves you with a choice: stay where you are and coast along, or try to do something different. That’s the place where I find myself, since there a number of things about this site that just aren’t improving anymore.

For example, the title of this site neatly sums up the sort of things I write, since it’s a play on Castiglione’s “Book of the Courtier”, a work that I’ve always found inspirational. On the other hand, it’s pretty clunky. Without naming names, I know several writers and podcasters who reference this site in their work, but struggle with how to pronounce it, or even remember what it’s actually called.

We have to keep up with the times, if we’re to stay relevant. That doesn’t mean lowering our standards, but it does mean taking a long, hard look in the mirror from time to time, to see what needs to be updated. Your grandfather’s Harris tweed jacket will never go out of style, but his extra-wide ties certainly have.

I know that this is a risky move as a writer who is not more widely known. I also realize that I’m going to lose a lot of readers when I move. I could just stay here and do more of the same. But I feel the need to push myself a bit harder, and the least I can do, for those of you who want to stick around, is to make that as pleasant and attractive a prospect as possible.

What I’m hoping to get from you, gentle reader, is some feedback.

I’ve already got several ideas about where I want to take things in the future, but I’m still working those out. In the meantime, it would help me a great deal if you would let me know your thoughts. What do you like/dislike about reading my work? What are your opinions on issues such as format, length, subject matter, and so on?

Please use the “Contact” tab, located up in the header of the site, to send me your thoughts. I’d prefer that you use that form, rather than comment directly on this post, since it will be easier for me to review the responses. I‘ll be very grateful to receive them, and I promise to read and consider all of them.

For the time being, I’ll keep posting on this site as I always do. It’s not going to go dark without plenty of advance warning. And while we await the outcome of this move, please allow me to thank you for your many years of support; I hope you’ll continue to support my efforts, as I launch into the unknown.

The Write Stuff: On Bosch, Travel, and Virtual Ink

Having been warned by the museum itself to do so in advance, I recently purchased my tickets for the opening of The Prado’s upcoming show, “Bosch: The Fifth Centenary Exhibition”. From the website:

To mark the 500th anniversary of the death of Hieronymus Bosch, the Prado is holding the most comprehensive exhibition ever organised on this Dutch artist. In addition to the works by the artist in the Museum’s collection the exhibition includes exceptional loans, among them The Triptych of the Temptations of Saint Anthony from the Museo de Arte Antiga in Lisbon, as well as paintings lent by leading institutions such as the Albertina and the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the National Gallery, Washington, the Musée du Louvre, Paris, and the Polo Museale del Veneto, Venice.

It is a given that if you ever happen to find yourself in Madrid, as I will be at the end of this month, you must go to The Prado. Even though I would have gone anyway, their hosting a major retrospective on one of my favorite artists is a significant bonus. Naturally, I plan to write a review of the exhibition for publication, but the question of what else, if anything, I will be publishing during my time in Spain remains a bit up in the air.

Part of the joy of going away on vacation is that you vacate the premises, physically and mentally. Home and the workplace are left behind for a period of time, so that you can have new experiences, clear your head a bit, and allow amorphous ideas the opportunity to begin taking shape. For me, having time off can be a period of welcome inactivity, but it can also be an opportunity for more scribbling – something which I have less time to do now than previously. It amazes me that for so many years I was able to churn out a blog post of 1,000 words or more, five days a week; I certainly couldn’t do that now.

At this point I don’t want to make any promises. Perhaps I will do a travelogue of each day’s adventures, or perhaps you will hardly hear a peep out of me, other than the de rigueur Instagramming of meals and cocktails. More likely the result will be somewhere in between.

Watch this space, gentle reader.

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Bosch's accurate prediction of the horrors of air travel in the 21st century

Back to Earth

I’m writing this from several thousand feet over the State of Georgia, on my way back to DC after the 2015 Catholic New Media Celebration (CNMC). No, I am not sporting a cape and tights as I do so. While this will not be a particularly lengthy post, it is an important one for me, in that it marks my return to regular blogging following the past two months of hiatus. And before continuing I want to once again thank all of my readers for their gracious expressions of kindness following the death of my Mother.

There will be some fairly substantial changes afoot here in the coming months. I cannot yet provide a timetable, but I would ask that you keep your eyes peeled so that, as the saying goes, you will not find yourselves caught asleep at the switch. These changes should allow those of you who appreciate reading my fitful scribblings to do so in a better-framed context. My goal is to build upon the last substantial changes I made two years ago, in order to make the perusal of my writing a more user-friendly experience with respect to content, design, and accessibility.

For those of you who have never attended, I should explain that the CNMC is the perfect venue for a media producer looking to step up his game or tweak what he is already producing. It was refreshing to be encouraged to examine my content with a more critical – if not to say jaundiced, á la (Florence) King – eye. Even if, as it turned out, some of the presenters happened to make digs at me during their presentations. You know who you are (Greg Willits and Maria Johnson), and you’re going on a list.

While there was a great deal to process coming out of this CNMC, both personally and professionally, perhaps the most important takeaway was the notion that it’s time to pick up and start again where I had left off: a bit sadder, but hopefully also a bit wiser than I was before I stopped. I hope that your gracious patronage and engagement, gentle reader, will continue as it has lo these (nearly 7) years now. God bless you!

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Somewhere Over Georgia