July 10, 2013

  • The End

    Ten years ago, around this time of year, I started my first ever online blog.  Back then, I was just “SammyStorm,” and not “SammyStorm2″.  Times have changed since then. I’m older (but not necessarily more mature), social networking has exploded, and Xanga.com is nearing its end (though it may survive in a different form).  I don’t know what is going to happen, but Xanga may indeed cease to exist so I feel that is prudent to post these words while I still can. 


    I still remember clearly the circumstances surrounding the creation of my blog. I was living in a motel in rural Illinois at the time because we were waiting to close on our townhouse.  I had heard about “blogs” but did not know much about them nor did I really read any blogs. One afternoon, I was lying on the bed and browsing the Internet on my laptop.  My wife and dog were taking a nap, I believe. It was hot outside. I had searched for something on Google and somehow someone’s Xanga blog was one of the search results. I clicked on the link, and the rest is history.

    Xanga made blogging very easy. All you needed is a username and password. Then it was up to you to pour content into your little section of the Internet. The thing that stood out for me was the novelty and satisfaction of being able to post your thoughts and receive feedback from strangers. I must have checked every half hour (who am I kidding? more like every five minutes to be honest) for new comments and eProps. While eProps were cool, the real goal was to receive comments. if someone took the time to leave a comment, it meant that they had read, at a minimum, at least a few of the sentences you had posted.

    Xanga led me to have delusions of grandeur. With this new-found blogging tool, I felt like a real writer, a philosopher, a minor celebrity even.  I cringe at my foolishness. But it was fun. Very fun.


    Perhaps even more so than eProps and comments, the concept of having “friends” (subscribers) on Xanga was amazing. I could not believe that anyone would willingly subject themselves to my crazy ramblings, but somehow I managed to find a fairly close-knit group of Xangans online.  There is so much diversity on Xanga, that finding people with interests and sensibilities close to your own was fairly easy — if you did not like someone’s blog you simply clicked through to the next. 

    Content varied, but some people seemed to have poured their hearts out into their Xanga pages to the point where you learned some fairly intimate details of their lives. I was probably the most guilty of unfiltered expressions of angst on my blog. The anonymity of my blog was a comfort to me.  I wrote things on Xanga that I would never dare orally communicate to my real-life friends. As such, not only was Xanga fun, it was therapeutic. Stalkerish as it may sound, eventually it really did feel like your subscribers were your “friends.”

    Most, if not all, of my former Xanga “friends” appear to have moved on. Their outdated blog entries are a bitter reminder that the best times of Xanga are long past. Yet I feel a strange sense of comfort, because I assume that they have all moved on to bigger and better things.

    I have met three Xangans in person. The first, unbelievably, I ended up working with at a certain nameless place of employment. It was by pure chance that we ended up at the same place. I recognized this person from photos and descriptions of that person’s job they had posted on their blog. At first, I was hesitant in introducing myself because I did not want to scare this individual off. In the end, however, I felt that full disclosure was the best path. We are still friends today. The second individual was in my area for vacation with his family. It rained on the day we met, and I regret not being able to provide a better experience for that person. We still keep in touch on several other social networks though, and I feel lucky to have been able to interact in person. We’ll do it again someday. The third person was @Onigiriman (forgive me sir, for identifying you, hahaha).  We met for a couple drinks and it turns out that he is even more of an amazing human being in person. Someday I hope to share another round of drinks with him.  I have never met @jerjonji in person, but we have interacted by email. @jerjonji is an amazing writer and reading her blog posts are an inspiration.

    There have been a few former Xangans who I have never met, but have gotten to know through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. They live in various parts of the world and are living wonderful lives, it seems. Maybe someday I will also meet them in person, or maybe I won’t. Either way, my life is better for having interacted with them, in whatever form.

    As for the Xangans who have faded away, perhaps forever, I am curious. Are they happy? Did they achieve their goals? Were they able to overcome the problems which they so often blogged about? I truly wish them the best.


    Oh, what fun times we had. I looked forward to logging onto my account every morning. I acknowledge now that I placed far too much importance on Xanga, but perhaps it was necessary for me at the time. Xanga was my escape. It presented a chance for me to vent. I experimented on Xanga. I tried being a “real writer,” with varying degrees of success (mostly failures). Xanga was the therapy that I never sought out in real life. But most of all, it was just plain fun.

    I laughed at funny anecdotes and stories. I celebrated when fellow bloggers wrote about their life successes. I was saddened when someone used Xanga as a forum to express their grief. We discussed movies, music, and current events. I joined a fantasy football league that some Xangans had organized.  I have heard that some Xangas had local “meet-ups.” I never participated in these events because my subscribers were too spread out across the globe. Yet all I had to do was log in and suddenly I had access to all the interaction I needed.

    I shared everything. Writing blog posts helped me deal with the stresses of law school, the ups and downs of marriage, and most of all, my inner conflicts — my subscribers were there for every step of the weird journey that has been my life. They were there to see my puppy grow up to be a full-grown dog. They left comforting comments when I vented about the difficulties of maintaining a successful marriage. They saw me move from one part of the country to another. Most of all, and also most embarrassingly, they became privy to some of the most darkest periods of my life. Xanga helped me document what I now realize were the early seeds of a mid-life crisis. Xanga was also my confessional, at times. Xanga was whatever you wanted it to be, really. Each type of blog – comedic, dramatic, photographic, even pornographic – had its merits. Every log-in was a different experience. 

    Comments were my drug, however. There is a strange satisfaction one feels when receiving feedback to something you have written. Perhaps Xanga fed my ego. Most, if not all, of the comments were supportive. This can be addicting. I looked forward to the positive reinforcement I received on a daily basis. Admittedly, I look back at some of my old blog posts and cringe at my immaturity. Hopefully I have grown a little. If Xanga were starting anew today instead of in 1999, I think I would have had a different experience. I probably would have been a little less dramatic, and been more truthful in my posts (not factually, but tonally). In the end, however, Xanga was the right forum for me at the right time in my life. I hope others feel the same way about their own Xanga experiences. 

    Moving On

    As time passed, my blogging habits changed. I went from posting multiple times a day, to daily, to once every other day, to weekly, to monthly, and ended up here, today. I had to spend a few minutes earlier trying to remember how to even start this post. I simply couldn’t find the button to click.

    I prefer Xanga to Facebook, but everyone and their mother (sometimes literally) seemed to have moved on to Facebook. Twitter is a fun and easy to use microblogging site. LinkedIn is great for work. YouTube dominates the video realm. Instagram makes photo sharing easy. What happened to Xanga? Why did not they release a user-friendly mobile app? I have many questions but I refuse to criticize. It must have taken thousands of hours of work to make Xanga what it is today. I am grateful. It is simply that things have changed, on the Internet especially.

    I no longer feel the desire to post “personal diary” type blog entries. Instead, most of my online activity now involves dogs, of all things. I am very active on Tumblr where I post canine-centric news stories on a daily basis. I also conduct interviews with dog shelters, volunteer organizations, and even a few celebrities. Xanga has added new features over recent years, but I feel my needs are met by other networks. I wish that Xanga was as active as it was at it peak, but it is not.

    My visits to Xanga became infrequent because, simply put, I moved on with my life. I grew. I changed. I no longer needed to vent, or even if I did, I no longer felt the same satisfaction as I had in the past. Above all, my visits to Xanga became less frequent because other people started to visit less frequently. Updates started to become more sporadic, blog posts started to become abbreviated, and comments started to dwindle. I felt sad, at first, but the void was readily filled with the rise of other social networks.  We all moved on.

    The End

    There is still a chance that Xanga may survive in a different form. If I were to once again feel the urge to post “diary” type entries, then perhaps Xanga 2.0 will be useful.  However, I do not know if I will migrate over to this new format, if it ever materializes. Perhaps it is best if I simply say “goodbye” and bring this amazing journey to a close.  I am on Tumblr at dogjournal.tumblr.com, on Twitter @HawaiiSammy, and on Instagram @HawaiiSammy.  Please reach out to me if you so desire.

    I once thought that I would be on Xanga forever. Yet today it appears that through the tears, through the laughter, and through all the crazy, fun, and amazing times, we have finally reached The End.

    Thanks for reading.   

January 1, 2013

  • From the Dog Journal


    1. CHIHUAHUA HELPS PIT BULL COPE WITH EXTREME FEAR OF ABANDONMENT (April 12, 2012) - A rescue organization helped a Pit Bull cope with fear of abandonment by pairing him up with a Chihuahua.
    2. A DOG JOURNAL INTERVIEW WITH ACTOR STEPHEN TOBOLOWSKY(June 26, 2012) - I am a fan of Stephen Tobolowsky’s podcast and film/TV roles, so it was a thrill to be able to interview him.
    3. DOG GOES DOOR-TO-DOOR TO GET HELP FOR OWNER, WINS AWARD (May 8, 2012) -After his owner passed out, a dog went from house to house and tried to get help by scratching on doors.
    4. SHELTER DOGS GO ON A FIELD TRIP (April 9, 2012) - This is a simple concept, but it was great to see dogs get a break from the shelter and get outside.
    5. FROM DEATH ROW DOG TO THERAPY DOG TO ACTOR (July 27, 2012) - A remarkable dog was rescued from euthanization, became a therapy dog, and was cast in a play this past year.
    6. JOGGERS PROMOTE ADOPTION OF HOMELESS DOGS (April 20, 2012) - I liked this story because it’s a reminder that shelters everywhere are working hard and using various means to find homes for the shelter dogs.
    7. MAN SAVES HANDICAPPED DOG IN THAILAND (July 12, 2012) - A man rescued an injured dog and brought him back to the U.S. His compassion is an inspiration to those whom he encounters.
    8. STRAY DOG IN AFGHANISTAN REFUSES TO BE LEFT BEHIND(October 19, 2012) - A dog befriended a soldier and refused to be left behind.
    9. DOG DOES TRICKS TO AVOID EUTHANIZATION (January 21, 2012) -A dog was so sweet and smart that he was able to be put up for adoption instead of being put to sleep.
    10. VOLUNTEERS RUN COVERT OPERATION TO SAVE PIT BULLS IN ONTARIO (November 15, 2012) - A group of volunteers are working behind the scenes to move Pit Bulls out of areas with breed-specific legislation.

    This was taken from dogjournal.tumblr.com
  • My Favorite Films of 2012

    My favorite film of the year is “Les Miserables.” Having never seen the stage version, I did not expect to like it so much, but now I can’t stop thinking about it. Just about all the major actors/actresses deserve an Oscar nomination. “Silver Linings Playbook” suffered somewhat from having a typical Hollywood third act, but it was still very funny and heartfelt.  Jennifer Lawrence was amazing. “Looper” was the best sci-fi/action movie of the year. The most original script in years. “Flight” received some negative reviews, but I though it was Denzel Washington’s best role in years. The most disappointing film to me was “The Hobbit,” partly because I had wildly high expectations. I still liked it, but it was too disorganized for my liking. However, some scenes were just as good, if not better, than anything in the LOTR trilogy. Hoping that the other two films in the trilogy have more coherent scripts. It was a pretty strong year for movies. 
    1. Les Miserables 
    2. Silver Linings Playbook
    3. Looper   
    4. Flight 
    5. Argo
    6. The Dark Knight Rises
    7. The Hobbit
    8. The Sessions
    9. The Grey
    10. The Avengers
    • The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
    • Life of Pi
    • Prometheus
    • The Hunger Games
    • 21 Jump Street

December 21, 2012

  • If you told me 10 years ago that there would come a day where I would barely log on to Xanga, I would’ve said you were crazy. Heck, I almost forgot my password earlier. I remember being addicted to checking for new comments and “eProps.”  It was a lot of fun.  Times change.  

July 1, 2012

January 1, 2012


    There may be a few notable omissions to this list because I haven’t seen such movies as War Horse, Martha Marcy May Marlene, The Help, Drive, or Meek’s Cutoff. Overall, I think it was a surprisingly strong year for movies. The top 5 or so on my list all could have been my favorite of the year, depending on my mood. Next year looks to be a strong year too, especially with the release of The Hobbit. Well, here we go:

    1. MIDNIGHT IN PARIS – Probably the most fun I’ve had at a movie in a long time, and Woody Allen’s best movie in years.  The atmosphere and romanticism drips off the screen.  A bit sappy at times, but I’d definitely recommend it to those who like romantic comedies.  Probably best to see the movie without watching too many trailers (so as to not spoil certain surprises).
    2. THE ARTIST – This film is about a silent film star and his struggles when the movie industry starts shifting towards “talkies.” The Artist itself is a silent film and it’s one of the best of 2011. Even better, a dog named Uggie plays a big part in the story and he is essentially a supporting actor. I had a huge smile on my face as the ending credits started rolling.
    3. DESCENDANTS – This film takes place in Hawaii so it was especially entertaining for me. This is definitely one of George Clooney’s best roles. Despite the drama involved in the story, it is never saccharine or overly wrought out. It is both funny and extremely moving.
    4. 50/50 – Of all the films this year, this is the one with the most heart. On the surface, this is a comedy about a serious topic – cancer. Yet the movie never goes overboard with the humor and has some genuinely tender moments. The script is tight and the soundtrack is one of the best of the year.
    5. HUGO – I was drawn into the world within the film of this movie from the first frame. It’s a love letter to the cinema in the form of a mystery/adventure. The cinematography is beautiful and you should definitely see the 3-D version. I felt like a kid again after seeing this movie.
    6. MONEYBALL – This is not just another sports movie.  Although baseball is the backdrop, the film is ultimately about believing in oneself and taking chances.  It was both funny and heartfelt.  Jonah Hill stars along with Brad Pitt.  It’s a side of Hill I haven’t seen before. 
    7. LIKE CRAZY – The most honest portrayal of relationships I’ve seen in a long time. What makes the movie good is the acting by the two main leads. Perhaps a little too realistic for some, but if you buy into the angst of the characters, you will love this movie. Great soundtrack.
    8. ANOTHER EARTH – This is a film about regret and forgiveness with a slightly sci-fi element to the story.  However, at its core this movie is a straight-up drama.  Probably the movie that made me think the most and the movie that I will most remember from 2011.
    9. CRAZY STUPID LOVE – I think this is Steve Carrel’s best movie so far.  I laughed hard throughout the movie.  It’s formulaic at times but its shortcomings are far outweighed by the humor and acting.  Ryan Gosling is great in this movie.
    10. INSIDIOUS – A classic “haunted house” story, this film had genuinely scary moments.  Despite the fact that it’s a genre that is over-saturated, this movie was really fun to watch. Not groundbreaking by any means, but a solid addition to the horror genre.
    11. J. EDGAR – Another great movie by Clint Eastwood. This film got mediocre reviews at best, but I disagree with the critics on this one. If you accept the slow pacing that is typical of Eastwood films, you will enjoy this movie and the acting by Leonardo DiCarprio.
    12. X-MEN: FIRST CLASS – Probably the best of the “comic-book” movies this year.  The acting was solid and the actions scenes were fun.  The movie is about the origin of the X-Men but it is compelling to watch because it is also a commentary on the instability and unrest of the 1960′s. 
    13. MARGIN CALL – This may be the first “financial thriller” I’ve seen. The director does a good job of building up the tension despite the fact that we all know that a financial crisis is about to explode. The movie is filled with first-rate actors such as Jeremy Irons, Kevin Spacey, Demi Moore, and others. The only downside is that, frankly, it’s hard to feel compassion for the characters as they are essentially rich, cocky investment bankers. But a great movie overall.
    14. SUPER 8 – Very, very close to being a truly great movie.  However, this movie falters in the 3rd act and fails to fully develop the relationship between the main character and antagonist.  However, very well made and fun to watch. 
    15. CONTAGION – Very efficiently made with good actors and a very tight script.  What it lacks in emotional resonance, it makes up with intellectual, documentary-type storytelling.  This film made me want to stop the practice of hand-shaking and take nightly baths in hand sanitizer gel.
    16. THOR – Overall, this was an enjoyable movie but ultimately it lacked a compelling storyline.  The climax was not climactic at all and lacked a sense of grand scale. 
    17. BATTLE: LOS ANGELES – I’ll start with the bad news first.  The bad news is that the dialogue and character development in this movie was not good…terrible, actually.  The good news is that the number of non-action scenes were so few that the movie was still enjoyable.  This movie felt like one long action sequence which was interrupted by a horrendous “dramatic” scene towards the end.  The filmmakers should have just skipped all attempts to instill sentiment and drama, and stuck with what they did best — wall-to-wall action with soldiers, aliens, guns, explosions, and spaceships.  The action set pieces were amazing and it was worth watching for that alone.  You have to take this movie for what it is — mindless, fun action with shallow characters and little attention to plot.   
    18. HANNA – I thought this would be higher on my list, and it was a good movie, but the film could have delved deeper into the story.
    19. RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES – This movie got pretty good reviews because it was a summer action movie that was not simply mindless action.  I had high expectations going into the movie and was somewhat disappointed.  Having said that, it’s still a solid movie, but ultimately forgettable. If you’re really into the Planet of the Apes series, you will love this movie.  If not, this is just a good action movie. 
    20. HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS 2 – Exciting and a great ending to the series, but frankly I almost fell asleep (I was really tired that day).  It felt like you needed to watch Part 1 immediately prior to watching this movie to fully appreciate it.

    Have a healthy and Happy 2012!

October 26, 2011

  • I’ve been interested in photography lately. I recently purchased my first DSLR camera (Nikon D3100) and have been practicing a lot. I really know nothing about the art of photography and have been reading articles online and viewing tutorials on YouTube. The main reason I bought the DSLR is to take high-quality pictures of my dog. The new camera will enable me to take action shots and better night shots. I’ve been taking a photo a day of my dog for the last 5 months and plan on continuing every day. Eventually, I will splice them all together into a video and create a time-lapse type of movie to track my dog’s growth. I think photography could be a hobby that I really get into.

  • Facebook is not fun to me anymore. The interface is cluttered, there is little original content, and there are far more convenient ways to communicate such as Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr. I think Facebook has gotten too big for its own good. The only reason I don’t shut down my Facebook page is to keep in touch with far away friends and family. I suppose the enjoyment one gets from a social network directly correlates with the quality of the content posted by one’s “friends.” Unfortunately, most of my friends seem to be too busy to post anything of value. Of course, I am guilty of the same thing. I cannot remember the last time I wrote a carefully thought out essay or photoblog. My Facebook wall mostly consists of links to news articles. I think I only have one or two friends who are genuinely entertaining on Facebook. I think we all need to slow down and re-evaluate how and why we use social networking tools.

August 10, 2011

  • “Like Crazy” Trailer

    This movie looks overly dramatic, sappy, and over-acted, but for some reason I found it to be rather compelling.  I have a feeling I’m either going really love this movie or really despise it – no middle ground. But this trailer is really effective and Ingrid Michaelson’s cover of Elvis fits the trailer perfectly.

March 30, 2011

  • The Facebook Effect

    Sometimes I wonder if Facebook has resulted in a downturn in creativity — namely MY creativity.  Whereas on Xanga I used to actually put some thought into my posts, on Facebook my activity seems to be a jumble of quick links to news articles, YouTube videos, and “checking in” to places I go in the city.  Also, that damned “Like” button makes it easy to seem like you’re keeping in touch with someone, when all you’re actually doing is social networking the lazy way.

    I understand that with our busy daily lives, Facebook is the easiest way to pop into our virtual living rooms and quickly say hello to whoever happens to be there at the time.  Yet I really miss the old Xanga days when I could easily spend an hour immersing myself in reading thoughtful posts by others, and typing, editing, and doing research for my own posts. This literally may be the longest non-work related chunk of text I’ve written in a long time (sad, I know).  It’s not as though I no longer have anything to say — I could write about the recent tsunami, recent events in my life, family drama, my dog (of course), or any number of other crazy things.

    I’ve been really active on my Tumblr site, but that place is really just a collection of articles and other items relating to dogs. I don’t really write long essays there.  Xanga is where I first discovered the world of social networking, and I wish that it could recapture its old glory days when we used to exchange ideas and thoughtful sentiment with each other on a daily basis through our posts.