October 24, 2016

The Crying Of The Catgirls: SDB

Steven Den Beste was not the reason I became a blogger.

But if it wasn't for him, I wouldn't have been a blogger for long.  I began Wonderduck's Pond back in July of 2005, primarily as a way to entertain the Official First Reader of The Pond, Mallory, with expanded versions of the Formula 1 emails I sent her.  Along the way, I began to work some anime into the mix.  The Pond muddled along, read by practically nobody, for a couple of years.

And then something odd happened.  Steven linked to one of my posts and people came from Chizumatic to read it.  Then he did it again.  And again.  Every time he did, people came to read what he linked, some stayed around, and by The Pond's glory years of 2010/11, I was getting perhaps 5000 real hits/day.

I doubt that he ran an intentional campaign to send readers here, but that was the effect.  Because HE had a loyal fanbase that made almost all other animeblogs look small.  A link from him would be a boon for a small blog.  A permanent place on his small blogroll made you.  I was tremendously flattered when he put The Pond there ten years ago.

Which is not to say that all was sweetness and light.  He and I had a few arguments, some blog-based, some e-mail.  He could be an irascible old coot, entirely unwilling to change his opinion on something once he got it in his head.  He refused to say much about his health... when I e-mailed him once to see how he was doing, he wrote back saying that people who asked that weren't really interested so he wouldn't say.  I suspect a lot of his "cootness" stemmed from his old USS Clueless days, when he was hated by roughly half the blogosphere.  Death threats weren't unheard of.  And if you knew what's best for you, you never ever made suggestions.

All of this was part of a brilliant thinker that also had the ability to take those thoughts and write them legibly.  He didn't do straight humor very much, perhaps his only weakness and perhaps the only category I would say I was at least his equal in.  Everything else, however?  There's a reason he was one of the first bloggers to wind up published semi-occasionally in the mainstream media.  When I started The Pond, one of my conscious decisions was to never write about politics.  There were plenty of people writing about politics out there, and they were infinitely better at it than myself.  When I thought that, I was thinking about Steven in particular.

Over the years, I know he and I became friends despite never having met.  He became a Formula 1 fan due to my writings, almost against his will.  When I first thought about closing this place down, he was the first to say that he'd miss reading what I wrote.  Imagine that: a legend of the medium saying he'd miss my writing.  He was a willing participant in the continuing story of the Anatidae Liberation Front, a bit of whimsy that never failed to amuse the hell out of me.  His last comment here at The Pond was about the history of failure that surrounds the Cubs, a common theme from him. 

This afternoon brought the news that the man I was pleased to call my friend, Steven Den Beste, had passed away. 

I'm going to miss reading what he wrote.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 09:15 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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1 Well said, Duck, well said.  USS Clueless was one of the first sites that I would hit daily or even more often in the hope of something new to read and think on, and Chizumatic has kept it's place in the bookmark bar since he switched over.  I'll miss him, and I know I won't be alone.

Posted by: David at October 24, 2016 11:06 PM (9UHFZ)

2 I eventually had to wander away from reading his blog. For years, though, he was a mainstay and always a brilliant mind. And a dedicated fan of anime cheesecake. The world is poorer for losing him.

Posted by: GreyDuck at October 25, 2016 07:27 AM (rKFiU)


The very first time I read anything by Steven was an article he did circa 2001-2002 on CDMA versus GSM (And the comparative government policies of the US and the EU.) that was referred by some one or some site whose name escapes me now.  That was how I started following him from USS Clueless to Chizumatic - the latter serving as a revelation as 'Wow, someone outside the anime niche is writing about anime!' (I had several years in fandom by that point.).  And when he would occasional quote from an email I sent him...

From near beginning to now.  It has been a long ride.  Fair winds and following seas, Steven.

Posted by: cxt217 at October 25, 2016 09:02 PM (hlTo6)

4 Chizumatic was one of my daily hits.  I read the news a few days ago, but today I hit his website, automatically.  Muscle memory, or what not.  That empty feeling came back and hit me full-force, all over again.

Posted by: Kurt Duncan at October 28, 2016 02:03 PM (PQ8xw)

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