The Great Webmaster Debunking, Part II

It seems that ONE line of Debunking I has caused a bit of a stir and I would like to clarify a few things.  I said:  “We worry about getting our bills paid, see people furrow their brows over our energy and time investment into a project that yields little monetary return and sigh when we get an e-mail bitching us out because the spoilers are late or we misspelled a word on paragraph 4 of the front page.”  Now I’m sighing again AND shaking my head.   

This was NOT intended to reprimand or discourage the people who write in to help us out with goodness in their hearts and a song on their lips.  My buddy, Chris, (“In A Lather” Chris) is a middle school English teacher and she and I MET on the internet from her writing to me totally dismantling a piece I wrote on Soap Opera Central, using her blue editor’s pencil like the mighty saber of journalistic death.  She kept me honest for many months on SOC, then, when it came time to start Eye On Soaps, I couldn’t imagine doing it without her.   She has taught me a great deal about sentence structure (although I still could use a refresher course and learn to write without run on sentences such as this one) and word usage and now that she has a heavier class load and is on EOS writing-editing leave until the summer, I feel like the smart part of my brain was lobbed off and put in cold storage.   

Last week, a woman wrote to me to tell me that I had misused a word.  The word was “mortified.”  I was writing the spoilers at about 90 miles an hour, while cramming maybe an hour of site work into the 10 minutes of computer time I could eek out at that particular moment.  She said, “Hi, Katrina. You probably don't remember me - I sent you a supportive note when was giving you a hard time, so you know I appreciate your writing.  However, you broached one of my pet peeves, so I'm compelled to update you! <grin>. In this weeks spoilers you describe Lila as 'mortified' by M&A's sending Emily off.  Mortified means embarrassed. I think you meant "horrified." Thanks for letting me harangue! I enjoy the site. Keep up the good work!”  So this was a nice enough letter and whipping out my trusty Webster’s, I saw that she was absolutely correct.  In a hurry, I tried to be droll and cute and wrote back, “*swish!*  The column is saved!”  I guess she took offense at this, because she wrote back a kind of terse note that said, Now, now, snide doesn’t become you. I’m a loyal fan, remember? I’m always glad when someone informs me that I’ve been using a word improperly – I HATE to sound less intelligent than I really am!”  Less intelligent than I really am?  This felt like it was getting weird, so I wrote back a fairly lengthy note telling her that it had been a bad morning (God, was it!  My kids were behaving as though they’d been eating speed like Pez all night and the house was a minefield of disasters waiting for unsuspecting me to activate them) and that I *did* appreciate being corrected and commented that it felt like that the people who write to offer criticisms are seldom the same people who write to praise.  I went on to tell her that I thought she had mistaken me for someone else because I didn’t recall a time in my career that had given me a hard time and, in fact, I’d had a pretty good rapport with the site and asked her to clarify.  She didn’t write back to clarify, but she did write back after the Debunking column to say [subject line:  From the "bitch" who was interested enough in your reputation to let you know when you had misused (NOT misspelled!) misspelled a word on paragraph 4 of the front page]:  Get over yourself, Katrina. I’ve lost all respect for you, since you’ve been behaving like a spoiled four-year-old. I tried to help you, not jump in your s__t.”  I immediately wrote back to tell her, Did it ever occur to you then, that I might not be talking about you?”  I wasn’t, in fact, and hadn’t even remembered her correction until I received her latest letter.  The wording of the one sentence that set her off was a direct jab at a letter I got back on Soap Opera Central (where a LOT of short fused degenerates hang out, as well as some really cool people).  THAT letter said, “If you had any brains at all, you could figure out that I comes before E EXCEPT in words like NEICE which is MISSPELLED on paragraph four of your SPOILERS!”  I was also thinking of the letter I got that said, “What FUNCTIONAL ILLITERATE wrote, ‘an unexpected pregnancy scare causes Alan and SHE to consider being parents again???  Any IDIOT knows it should read ‘Alan and HER’!”  At first, I got pretty excited about someone actually considering me to be functional, which I interpreted to mean useful and operative, then I got to the idiot part.  >:<   

I have been fortunate that EOS readers are a very decent, civilized lot and I appreciate that more than I can say.  When I hear some of the letters other webmasters receive, I know that I am well and truly blessed.  The worst it usually gets around here is someone writing to ask why I didn’t put X, Y or Z actor in the GH eye on the frames section.  There’s no great esoteric reason for the selection of faces that roll past in the eyeball.  I just picked the actors that I liked at the time.  It’s a matter of pure Katrina Ego that I was high on at the time the site was created and I said, “My site, my eye, my favorites.”  The purpose of the eye isn’t to stroke any soap special interest groups, revere the icons of the show or make any of the actors’ fan clubs feel good that their person made it into the animations.  It’s just a collection of actors that were giving me a buzz at the time, with the exception of Chloe, who is only recently starting to interest me at all.  I just liked that perky little picture of her.   

One of my writers came running excitedly to me a couple of weeks ago, flushed with joy and happily clutching her first “totally irrational hate mail!!”  She’d been waiting eagerly for this since she first put finger to keyboard for EOS.  It read (in part),  “Perhaps we should let "Snarly-ho" loose on your ass- I doubt you'd be standing for long. I LOVE Carly & Sonny and you should at least appreciate the pure talent projected by those two. It is GH history in the taking. So, (as the saying REALLY goes) take a big, tall glass of SHUT-UP juice until you can make commentary that is worth listening to.”  She was thrilled and I was thrilled for her.  I do have to say, in defense of my columnist, that the quote she and I both use came from the 1996 movie, Happy Gilmore.  Happy's gram asked a sadistic orderly in her new nursing home (orderly played MAGNIFICENTLY by the delicious Ben Stiller) for a nice warm glass of milk and he said, "You can have a nice warm glass of SHUT THE HELL UP!"   I followed the old adage of, “If it works, steal it,” and have enjoyed using it ever since.  Through another e-mail exchange, the columnist and the letter writer went on to have a good dialogue and they worked things out nicely.   

My Soap Box rant on the use of the word “Witch” to describe a wretched, bitchy woman actually being discrimination against a segment of society brought almost entirely positive feedback, validating my opinion that overall, EOS readers are intelligent, caring people who are able to look beyond their own beliefs and worlds and open their minds.  I only received TWO negative responses.  One was at the time of the original publication back in November:  Of all the things to get off on GH, this was over the top. I know that political correctness is important in this society, And I am happy for you that you have had good experiences with Witches, but come on! What do you want him to say? Black widow? Oh but the spider lovers would be offended. Bitch? Oh the female dog lovers would have a cow.” And goes on to say, “But Witches that I know, get power from somewhere. And if it is not from God of the Bible it is the devil. And to refer to someone as a witch is letting someone know they are as evil as the devil. Now I know there are "good" witches. I believe their hearts are good, but if they are using power from somewhere, to me it is still Satan giving it to them, and they just don't realize it.”  As I said clearly, loudly and prefacingly in the original column (click here to read it), I wasn’t writing the column to debate religious ethics or to advocate any spiritual path over another, but to point out that there are Witches out there who practice this as a spiritual path and are a segment of society who, like anyone else, deserve the right to not have their path besmirched on soaps anytime the writers need a word for an evil woman.  The female dog owners/spider lovers would have a cow or be offended?  My female dog does not look up off of her sprawled position on my couch and say, “HEY!  ExCUSE me!!” whenever someone is called a “bitch” on TV.  The very kind and loving Witches I have known cringe at the ignorance and frequency of the word’s use and the ongoing persecution.  BIG difference.  Witches=people whose feelings can get hurt; Bitches=animals who are not overly concerned about verbal consideration on TV.  I am very secure, fulfilled and content in my own spiritual beliefs and when anyone begins spouting their impassioned convictions in order to pound on mine, it instantly is converted (thanks to my handy, dandy rhetoric encoder ring) to Charlie Brown Teacher Speak (“whaaa whaaa whaaa whaaa”).   The letter writer and I exchanged a few notes and pretty much agreed to disagree. 

The other negative response to the Witch column came more recently, but in conjunction with something else (letter printed as sent, typos and grammar are not mine), I haven't written awhile and most of the time agree with you. But your rave on the witches deal  turned me off and I haven't read you for awhile.  lately you and all the "muses" seem to think Laura is giving Carly a bad time.  OK.  Who is more mature?  Who has actually been around the world and back again? Who has held down a job? LAURA Now tell me, has anyone told Carly [the one who loves her husband so much] that the chick she is sporting for the face of the year, is really the sister of Sonnys enemy.  I have run a business, small that it may be, but Laura has got more knowledge in her fingernail, the Carly has in her butt.  No pun intended. Besides, which, a partner doesn't whine if she or he doesn't get their way, they learn to compromise.  Guess that does work in soapdom.  The only reason that you and the others don't like the way Carly babe is treated is that her storyline has romantic overtones. Cretainly that has tainted your opinion some. Get back on track. This time you are way off.” 

In response to the above letter, as well as the “totally, irrational hate mail,” I’d like to say that we, as writers, not only expect that people are going to disagree with our ideas, but depend on it!  If every one of my writers wrote like Katrina and thought like Katrina, it’d quickly become a pretty boring read at EOS.  In fact, Tracey from Tracey’s Take and I circle the calendar date in red any time we DO agree on a character, plotline or ANYTHING having to do with the shows!  I HIRED Tracey BECAUSE we see things totally differently (and because she can write a decent column).  The same thing goes for our readers.  We enjoy good-natured debate and opposing ideas that are well thought out and intelligently presented (no, you don’t have to be Hemmingway to write to us, but “You’d better start being nice to Hannah, you SUCK!” is not conducive to titillating e-mail dialogue) are warmly welcomed.  It has never ceased to amaze me how worked up folks get over the defense of fictional people in a fictional town.  I understand that usually, they are defending some aspect about themselves that the character embraces, but wow!  It can get REALLY personal sometimes!  

The last letter quoted (the Laura-Carly letter) made me smile because nothing could be further from the truth.  I am fortunate enough to be awash in romance and have no need to party onto Carly’s.  I just plain thought Laura was out of line, plus, I didn’t get the pun, so I felt ripped off in the funny department.  My hackles always go up when someone is rude about one of my girls (I know, I sound like a madam, but these writers bust their butts for me and EOS and crank out column after column after column just for the love the the site, the show and me – I hope) and to have my precious Muses raked out en masse really pissed me off.  I shared the letter (since it was a fuss at all of us) with my writers and one of them wrote this response: 

To whom it may concern:

    While it is our policy here at eyeonsoaps to ask our readers to give us feedback on  how we can make our website better, it is NOT our policy to make changes unless we, the owners of this site, feel it is appropriate. In addition to this, the columnists who give of their time to share with us have their OWN opinions and have a right to express it in any way they see fit. I personally do not agree with your character assessment of Carly, and I disagree with your character assessment of Laura as well. Laura knows as much about running an international conglomerate as Carly does, which is nothing, so there goes that theory.  As far as Carly wanting Gia to be the face of Deception, I'm sure finding out that she is Taggert's sister would not color her opinion of the young lady, if it means that Gia will become the model, instead of Liz. Carly has never pretended to like Liz, and vice versa. Carly may be a lot of things, but a whiner she is not. And again, if you don't like our opinions, then you can get your own site, and write your own column -- our columns are just that -- our own, and we do not feel obligated to change our opinions for anyone.  I'll thank you not to give us reasons for our own opinions -- we can justify them if we need to, and this case we don't feel justification is necessary.  We encourage you to keep sharing your thoughts and opinions, but I can assure you, deliberately nasty letters do not get our attention, or our concern. We will not make the effort in the future to respond to blatantly negative letters.

Eye On Soaps Staff 

That girl does have a way with words! 

We, the EOS Staff, LOVE what we do.  We love it enough to, without tangible compensation,  push the rest of our lives aside for varying numbers of hours a week and peck away at our keyboards, hoping to give you a grin, help you feel like you have a cyber friend with a common interest, commiserate over the frustrating things, celebrate the wonderful things and enjoy the debates as they occur.  We love the shows, love the site and love sharing that with all of you.  When I say that this site is my social life, it’s no lie.  People kind of smirk and figure I’m exaggerating, but literally, my life wraps around the husband and kids (home and at large) and the people involved with this site, staff and readers.  The notes I receive that are warm, encouraging and appreciative warm my heart and sometimes give me a reason to sit down and crank out another column when I’d otherwise want to pull the covers over my head and try not to hear the crashes as my house is pulled apart in the other rooms.  I may not get a chance to answer all of them, or answer promptly, but they are still cherished.  The letters that challenge my take on a character or give me pause to reconsider a storyline are exciting and invigorating.  Someone who nicely corrects a bit of history that I pulled out of my hat in mid column and makes me say, “YEAH!  That IS how it happened!!” is a real jewel.  What then, you might ask, is the debunking? 

The truth behind the myth is that here, just like in the real world, people have feelings.  We are not just words on a screen translated from binary code.  We are real people.  We are your mothers, your sisters, your daughters and your friends.  We throw our opinions out there and hope that people enjoy them and if they disagree, that they will write and talk to us, not rage at us or vent their amassed, latent, chronically-angry-person fury on us.  We hope that if people have corrections, suggestions, or ideas to better the site, that they will be delivered in a kind, loving and gentle way, rather than in condemnation and anger.  If we aren’t giving a person what they need in a site, we hope that they will nicely offer suggestions rather than storm off and slam us on another site’s message board.  If a person is continually upset with our opinions or ideas, we hope that they find a site that works for them and wish them well.  We are total e-mail junkies and are thrilled when someone clicks on the envelope to drop us a line.  Get us drunk and we’ll talk about soaps as though they are dead-on real until the wee hours of the night (just join the Thursday night chats in Penthouse 1 to witness this sad event OR better yet, meet up with us at the GH Luncheon in LA in July.  We’ll be the ones getting kicked out).  We are so blessed that EOS seems to have tapped into a very special vein of people who are kind, warm, compassionate, intelligent, funny, speculative and friendly.  So many other sites are not like that, as you may have found if you jumped onto their message boards and were eaten alive by the cliques there.  The companionship that wraps around us when we jump into a soft, cuddly pile of EOS keeps us warm through the occasional cold, prickly letter we receive.  I know I speak for all of us when I say THANK YOU for your support, your love, your encouragement and your 100,000 EOS clicks in the five short months we’ve existed.  We love ya and we’ll leave the light on.  Thanks for everything.


E-Mail Katrina 


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