Ten years ago today, I signed into blogger.com and typed in the words: Mike’s Bloggity Blog Blob.
The name was inspired by one of my favourite lines in Sex And The City, when Carrie says she is “Drunkity Drunk Drunk.”
A lot has changed since then. The name of the blog for one. I also switched to WordPress years ago and, the thing that has changed the most? My life.
I honestly had no idea that starting a blog would not only become my life, it would add so much to it. I always loved writing. As a kid in junior high, I would sell my short stories to my classmates, so they didn’t have to write them. But I lived in New Brunswick, writers can’t make a living in New Brunswick, or hardly anywhere for that matter. So when I moved to Calgary eleven years ago, I barely knew a soul and I started blog. My friends and I were going to L.A to watch a taping of Celebrity Duets (like Dancing With The Stars, but with singing) and I wanted a way of sharing my adventures with my friends and family back home. Facebook hadn’t made it’s way across North America yet, and Twitter was a just a glimmer in Jack Dorsey’s eye. So I started writing a blog. And the rest, as they say history.
Since that day, I’ve written 4,845 blog posts. More than a million unique visitors have come to the site this year alone. Last year too. At the beginning, I challenged myself to write a blog post every single day. I did that for years. Retrospectively, it was insane, but it was so fun. Now, I’m down to about three or four blog posts, depending on what going on. The blog was initially just regular old blog, mostly I wrote about whatever I was watching on TV. When I was a kid, I would hang out in the aisles of Blockbuster and tell strangers what they should watch. Or when my parents wanted to watch something on TV, they would just ask me, because I memorized the schedule every week. I also read Leonard Maltin movie review books like they were novels.
So the first few years of the blog is very different than what it is now. Looking back, it’s so fun to see what I did for blog posts. I literally used to live blog American Idol. Like, every single singer. For seasons. I then did the same for Canadian Idol. Oh to have that much time again.
One of the biggest turning points for the blog was a coffee date with Lainey Liu, who writes Lainey Gossip, and is now a co-host on The Social. In terms of blogging, she was Canadian royalty. On a whim, I decided to send her an email to let her know that I was going to be in Vancouver and wondered if she’d like to meet. To my surprise, she did. We chatted over coffee and she said something that I’ll never forget: “Your blog is like Friday Night Lights, people say they like it, but no one is reading it.” She told me I needed to find what made me stick out from the thousands of entertainment blogs that were popping up every single day. I had written some blog posts about my love of Canadian TV and music, and she told me to focus on that. So I did. After that, the blog really took off.
All of a sudden, as papers were just beginning to struggle, there was a blogger who was going to say something positive about Canadian entertainment. I know that sounds simple, but really that’s all it was. Soon every network was sending me screeners of every show (something I dreamed about as a kid). I was getting invited to concerts to write reviews and meeting some cool celebrities. I even got to go to the Degrassi set. Something that still gives me chills.
Another big moment was when I got to write a piece for Entertainment Weekly. They were looking for people to partake in a Star Wars marathon, and since I had never seen it before, I thought it would be fun. So I watched the first six movies and then wrote about it. I never thought much of it after sending it in. The next morning, I did what I do every morning and signed into EW.com. To my surprise (another feeling I’ll never forget), my story was the top story on the website. It was right there for the entire world to see. And it was there for days. I couldn’t believe. I had kept every copy of Entertainment Weekly for nearly a decade and all of a sudden my name was right there on its website. Unreal.
After that, people in Calgary started wondering who this blogger who on EW.com. The word blogger was new to our vocabulary. People were being told they should work with bloggers, and all of a sudden there was someone called Mike’s Bloggity Blog. The timing was perfect.
The blog also allowed to me to become a writer. I’m not sure what the difference between a blogger and a writer is, but sometimes I feel like a blogger and other days I feel like a writer. For six amazing years, I got to be a weekly columnist at Metro. A real newspaper. The fact that the blog was sorta named after the best columnist in the TV-world, was never lost on me. It was fantastic to have such a loud voice (sometimes too loud) in such a respected newspaper. It’s still incredible to think I was given that opportunity. Before that, there was a small group of writers called Q (before CBC’s version of Q.) It was a fantastic group of writers and I think we told great stories, but like many writers, our assignment was cut short.
Someone should stop me, because I could talk about the blog forever. Not because I think everyone will find it interesting, but because as strange as it sounds, Mike’s Bloggity Blog has defined my life. Almost every day has a moment that has happened because of the blog. And as someone who loves pop culture, the fact that it’s become so much a part of my life is still so surreal. So, as so many bloggers do nowadays, I wanted to run down some of my favourite moments of the past ten years. To the listical!
10 Unforgettable Moments of Mike’s Bloggity Blog
Being hunted on a Ranch
I can’t talk about the blog without talking about all the adventures I’ve had in and around Alberta. This province is incredible and is full of adventure. I’ve stayed at some incredible hotels, and some less incredible hotels. I’ve come face to face with wolves, gotten lost more times than I can count and once wrote a segway around frozen Edmonton. But far and away, my favourite adventure was the Ranch Tracker experience at Heritage Ranch. If you have a few minutes to watch the video, you’ll see why. It was the right amount of scary, thrilling and so funny. I still can’t believe i did it.
Getting a gig at Breakfast Television
I got to meet BT host Jill Belland when the JUNO’s were first in Calgary in 2008. We got to chatting and she asked if I would come on the show. Now, there’s no possible way for me to describe how excited I was to be on Breakfast Television. I know I keep bringing up living in New Brunswick, but being on TV was probably the biggest thing that I had ever happened to me, and I never would have thought that would have been possible back home. But the Breakfast Television gang was amazing and over a few years, they kept inviting me back, until one day, they asked me to work there. A job as a producer had opened up and they said I should apply. I had no experience in working in TV and honestly didn’t think much of it. Shockingly, a few weeks later, I was working there and having the time of my life. I was and still am fascinated with television. There’s not another medium like it and it was such an interesting time to be working there. I stayed for three and a half years until I decided to venture out on my own, but that job shaped every decision I make. I always tell people I went to the school of Breakfast Television. They taught me so much and still do.
Getting Boo’d by Feist
Speaking of the time I met Jill Belland, if she’s reading this, I know she’s desperate for me to tell you how we met, which also happens to be my most embarrassing moment. It was at the 2008 JUNOs and I was a media newbie. I was lucky enough to score a seat in the media room and I had no idea what I was doing. Remember, I had never gone to school for any of this stuff, so I was completely overwhelmed. Not only that, I was sitting in and around some of the coolest names in media, people that I had looked up to forever. For me, the JUNOs were about seeing journalists and reporters, the musicians were the least of my concerns. I got to talk to Rick Campanelli, a man who I will forever insists is the nicest person in the media. Anyway, so after winning a slew of JUNOs, Feist had made her way back stage to the press room. I wanted to ask a question, but I barely knew who Feist was, let alone know anything to ask her. Her song “1,2,3,4” was being used for iPod commercials, so I raised my hand and asked her what kind of iPod she had. It didn’t go over well, why would it, she just won a bunch of awards and that’s the question she gets asked? I get it. But she boo’d and then got the entire press room to boo me. The room of people I had admired the most. The worst. But an important lesson. Afterwards, Matt Babel, who was a MUCH VJ at the time came up and asked me if I was okay, that’s how rough it was. When I got back to my seat, Jill turned around and introduced herself. If ever there was a conversation stater.
Sitting in stairwell with Carly Rae Jepsen
If you every want to waste hours of your life, you could spend that time reading how much I wrote about Carly Rae Jepsen before she made it big with Call Me Maybe. I was an instant fan of her from her time on Canadian Idol and after she left the show, she had a pretty okay profile in Canada, and she was producing some great songs, so I wrote about her any chance I could. I got to interview her a few times when she’d pop into the city. One time in particular, we were sitting in a stairwell of a bar that is now closed. We were doing the interview and management came back and said that we couldn’t be back there, because it was for “talent only.” She awkwardly had to explain that she was the talent. A humbling moment for a person that was already humble.
Here’s another weird thing. So we kept running into each other, here and there, and it got to the point where I had convinced myself that she thought I was crazy and an obsessed fan. They were always coincidental encounters, but even I felt weird. When Call Me Maybe came out, it took months for it to catch on in the states, so she was doing her normal Canadian dates. I booked her on Breakfast Television, and purposely didn’t go and watch in the studio, because I thought she thought I was crazy. So I stayed at my desk, and watched from there. When she was done, she noticed me in the corner of her eye and awkwardly slowed down. She was probably wondering why this person that she knew pretty well wasn’t getting up to say hi to her. But I honestly thought she thought I was Single While Female, so I nodded and she went on her way. That was the last time I saw her before she become one of the biggest stars in the world. Way to go, Mike.
Interviewing Kelly Ripa
When Kelly Ripa was coming to shoot a week’s worth of shows in Banff, I knew that I wanted to go. How could I not? I had been working with CTV on stories for years, so I was lucky enough to get two interviews with her. One was a phoner with other media before she came, and then I got my own interview in Banff. I was beyond lucky. (And I know we’re not supposed to say “I’m lucky”, but after ten years, I can confidently say that sometimes life is just luck.) The interview was a ton of fun, and we had laughs. But here’s what stayed with me. She was generous. Both on the phone and in person, she said that she “loved Mike’s Bloggity Blog.” That is, of course, not true. She had never heard of it and she’s probably already forgotten about it. But what she did was push me into the spotlight. She was generous knowing that saying what she said would help me. And I don’t think she did that for just me, I think she does that for anyone she encounters. Being generous with your time and energy is a lesson that I’ve never forgotten.
Having a pint at The Rovers
When CBC called me a few months ago and asked if I wanted to do a project with them for a show, I immediately thought it was Schitt’s Creek. I pictured becoming best friends with both Dan and Eugene Levy. As it turns out, the show was actually Coronation Street, the British soap that’s been on for 56 years. I explained that I had never seen it before, and they thought that was great. They wanted someone to start watching the show and write about their experience as a new fan. As an added twist, I would be going to the set of Coronation Street for two days to shoot some segments with the cast and crew. Those two days would turn into 12 segments and a lifetime of unforgettable moments, luckily many of them were caught on video. I’ll tell you this, after the first day on the set, my brain was fuzzy. Sure it was probably the jet lag, but it was the first time in ten years I felt completely overwhelmed, but not really in a bad way. I don’t think I could comprehend what was happening. How I get there, and most importantly: Why me. Like I said earlier, it’s okay to say that you’re lucky every now and then, and this was definitely one of those moments. But a few weeks before that, I was minding my own business, and then all of a sudden I was in England, interviewing people that other people camp out overnight to meet. The cast was all incredibly kind, but still I couldn’t process it. I’m not sure I still can. It was a lucky moment and one that I’m forever grateful for.
Exploring Far Off Lands
The blog has led to some amazing experiences across the country, and even some in Europe, including the aforementioned trip to Coronation Street. I also had the chance to watch Coldplay perform in a bull ring in Madrid, and three different tours of western European countries. Typing that seems surreal. Wow. Without a doubt, my favourite tour was the trips with Viking Cruises, which if you can ever splurge, is worth every penny. I still try to find ways to be as calm and relaxed as I was on those trips. I never have. Trust me, there’s no more beautiful way to see Europe than watching it float by on your deck. It’ll likely be decades until I can do it again, but we will. We have to.
An honest moment with Dallas Green
Dallas is also one of the kindest people I have ever met in my career. We met a few times at JUNOs-related things and did an interview once a year for a while. He was alway so kind and gracious. This particular interview during his tour and as I made my way into the theatre, I could hear him practicing. I met him on the stage and he said, “Oh good, it’s you.” You could tell it was tired. For the next hour, we sat in the front row of the Jubilee Auditorium and chatted. It was the most honest conversations I had ever had with a celebrity, if that’s what you want to call him. He was tired, he had been on the road for a long time. He was also frustrated, frustrated that no matter how many songs he sang, people would always interrupt his shows to tell him how hot he was. It was a weird problem, what that I understood, but had never experienced. Clearly. The interview got to a point of honesty where I stopped the recorder and reminded him that I was still recording. I wanted to make sure it was okay. He said it was. When I got home, I wrote the story and emailed the publicist. I asked again if it was okay to publish. I mean, I’m not Rolling Stone, if they didn’t want me to write an interview about a singer’s bad day, I wouldn’t. But they gave me the okay as well. He was so honest that day. I still try to be the same.
Becoming a best selling author
When we dreamed up Calgary By Bike, it was because we noticed that Calgary didn’t really have an updated guide, one that incorporated social media, new buildings and the cycle tracks. So Calgary By Bike was born. Since it came out last year, Calgary By Bike has been an overwhelmingly positive experience. If any writer can ever self-publish, it’s definitely an adventure. (Not that I’d say no to a publisher. 🙂 Since its debut, Calgary By Bike has sold more than 5,000 copies and has spend months on the Calgary Herald Best Seller list. But more importantly, it gave me something to hold. As a blogger, you have all your content online. It’s an amazing feeling to hold something in your hand that you created. Funny that.
And that’s ten. How is that ten? I could go on forever. Honestly, I could. This has been such an incredible journey and here’s the thing, it has nothing to do with me. It only has to do with the millions of people that have come to the blog over the last ten years. Without you, I have nothing. Isn’t that sorta empowering for you? So thank you. Thank you so much for coming, sharing, liking, commenting and having fun. I hope you think Mike’s Bloggity Blog is fun, because I certainly do. Thank you again for this incredible journey, and here’s to another ten years, when Mike’s Bloggity Blog will be digitally inserted into your eye for all the world to read.
Thank you. I mean it.