The Place Where Dreams Come True
Elise Stefanik is literally everything that is wrong with everything
The place where dreams come true
Editor's note: If you want to continue following the thoughts and philosophy that has made "The Hoffman Files" one of…
*Editor’s note: If you want to continue following the thoughts and philosophy that has made “The Hoffman Files” one of the most beloved blog pages in the Capital Region according to people who don’t really get out much, you can now find my musings here: https://thehoffmanfiles.wixsite.com/website
“Well Rob, that’s kind of my job, making people’s dreams come true.” And with that, Mike Huber, the former “Blog Editor” for the Times Union officially launched my “career” as a blogger for their esteemed paper. I had told him that it had been my dream to be a journalist when I was in college and to one day have my own syndicated column. It was like that moment in Field of Dreams when Kevin Costner says to his deceased father who apparently had come back from the great beyond, “Dad, is there a Heaven?” and his ghost of a father responds, “Oh yeah, it’s the place where dreams come true.” I’m not sure the Community Blog page of the TU constituted a “Field of Dreams” for yours truly so much as it turned out to be a “Field of Reams” considering some of the criticism hurled my way the past six years or so by my loyal readers.
Of course I didn’t really “work” for the paper since they’ve never paid me a cent, and the TU makes it quite clear that we Community Bloggers don’t work for the newspaper by way of their disclaimer on their Community Blog page (The powers that be sometimes refer to it as the “Reader’s Blog” which I’ve always considered a bit demeaning). Still, apparently there can be confusion when it comes to exactly how much affiliation there is between community bloggers and the newspaper proper and apparently that confusion has caused a major problem for those charged with running the Times Union. As a result, there will be no more blogging from this site for yours truly or any of the other fine individuals who have put in their time and energy in order to give you, the reading audience something a little different than what you get from your traditional newspaper opinion page. While I have mixed feelings regarding the end of my contributions to the Community Blog page of the Times Union, the fact that amidst all of the chazerai, the collapse of the blog page was brought about by of all people, the traitorous and sycophantic Congresswoman, Elise Stefanik, I feel that this above all else is what is sticking in the craw of all of the now displaced former TU bloggers.
When she’s not sucking up to her puppet master, the disgraced, twice impeached former President of the United States , Donald Trump, she can be seen cavorting with one of the all-time congressional knuckle-draggers, “Gym” Jordan. Jordan is of course famous for not reporting sexual abuse he was allegedly witness to while he worked at Ohio State University. What chemistry these two have! (Getty Images)
So how does a story about the end of the Community Blog involve a seditious traitor like Elise Stefanik, a woman who helped egg on the treasonous goons who attacked the Capital on January 6th? Well apparently a couple of bloggers penned a satirical piece according to somebody in the know which was personal in nature in regards to the MAGA queen herself. Her office whined like a spoiled child to the editors of the Times Union, and unfortunately, it was a bridge too far. For Stefanik, who pretends to be one of the good people of the North Country even though she uses her parent’s summer home as her address so it actually looks like she lives there, the pathetic attempt to bully the editors of the TU marks a new low for the passionate defender of Trump, slimeball Congressman “Gym” Jordan, rabid Qanon supporter and anti-Semitic Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, and fierce critic of those who have advocated for science in the midst of this awful pandemic. (Honestly, is there anything worse than a politician who runs around with the biggest bully to ever inhabit and disgrace the White House, and then cry and whine to the local paper because somebody said something mean about her? I thought politicians were supposed to be able to take the heat?)
While I never saw the blog in question since it was pulled down rather quickly, I felt that it was probably over the line and if anything, not very clever. Still, I believed that the decision made by the editors who run the Times Union was an overreaction. Apparently there was also a blog that was posted that said something to the effect that Bill Gates had constructed the entire COVID-19 pandemic so he could engineer the vaccine and finally become what he’s always dreamed of being…rich…or something along those lines. Right wing crazies to the right of me, left wing crazies to the left, what’s a poor editor to do? Well, it would seem that the solution is to end the Community Blog page, and thus, this is my last blog for the Times Union. It’s like punishing an entire class just because one child is misbehaving. (Not that I’ve ever done anything like that.)
This is Elise Stefanik’s colleague Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene. She recently claimed that the forest fires in California were due to the use of a Jewish space laser. So far, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, who couldn’t take a joke made at her expense has had no objection to Ms. Greene’s pronouncement. On the other hand, since my father was an accountant for 30 years in the “Laser” district on the Lower East Side in New York City, I have nothing more to add. (New York Times)
The TU blogger page was the “baby” of Mike Huber, and it was Mike who brought me on board back in 2014. (Here is a link to the first blog I wrote for the Times Union. Mike encouraged me to introduce myself to what was going to be my somewhat adoring public: https://blog.timesunion.com/hoffmanfiles/ive-decided-to-come-out-as-a-blogger/6/) He said that he found my writing humorous, and for a self-described “cynical journalist” who had been in the business for 25 years, he claimed that making him laugh was no easy task. Making people laugh was my goal back in 2014, and in fact I wanted the picture that appears above my blog to be a picture of a horse’s ass. (I had a really good picture of one too!) The idea from my perspective was that I didn’t want people to take my blog too seriously. It was supposed to be tongue-in-cheek. However, Mike said that he wouldn’t allow that, and that I shouldn’t encourage abuse since it would come my way regardless. He was correct of course, and I’ve been called amongst other things, an “Ass-h0!e!” and the ever popular “F#c&ing ass-h0!e!” It has been suggested to me that I should burn in hell, that I”m a disgrace to the teaching profession, and disturbingly enough, somebody once offered to eat my hair. (Unfortunately for both of us, it wouldn’t have been a very satisfying meal.) I’m not going to lie, after reading that last one I made sure all of the windows were locked. Anyway, thanks Mike, you’re a good man, and now that I have a drum set and golf clubs, we should go golfing and do a little jamming with you and your “ax.”
Being funny in print is no easy task. I discovered that people take things very seriously and often literally when reading something in print, and sarcasm doesn’t always translate so well to the written word. However while I tried not to be discouraged as I continued in my attempt to sharpen my comic stylings, my wish to spread humor was derailed by the successful candidacy of one Donald Trump. At first I tried to treat Trump’s boorish run for the White House with humor, even attempting to stay neutral in the presidential battle that ensued between the “Orange Menace” and Hillary Clinton. However, Trump’s disgraceful behavior in mocking a handicapped reporter, his attacks on the heroic John McCain, his racism towards people of color, his dishonesty, and his gross incompetence, all brought to bear by the pandemic he was incapable and disinterested in fighting, forced me to turn a more serious eye towards national events, and the president who seemed destroy to everything he touched.
I think this is how I’m going to remember the failed and disgraced president. Standing in front of a church that he never went to for any kind of religious purpose, while using tear gas and violence to clear out a crowd of peaceful protestors so he could get this pathetic photo-op, and then holding the Bible upside down. Thank you Trump voters! (Getty Images)
Sadly, once Mike parted ways with the Times Union, things weren’t quite the same. Shannon Fromma was helpful and friendly in her new role as blog editor, but it wasn’t really a job for her, although she was always professional and responsive whenever I had a question or a concern, I don’t believe it was a job that she ever sought. We bloggers all owe Shannon our gratitude as well. However, I’m not so sure the rest of the editorial staff at the Times Union felt the same feelings of endearment towards its blogging community. When Mike ran the blog page, he always promoted the bloggers and my face and my words appeared often on the cover of the “Capital Region” section of the newspaper. However, after Mike left, the promotion left with him. Instead, if you weren’t one of the paid bloggers, you seemed to be viewed as little more than a nuisance.
I would always submit my blogs to Fark.com, a blog site that publishes a small amount of blogs from around the “blogosphere” everyday. Most of the time, although not always, Fark would post my TU blogs, giving me hundreds and occasionally thousands of more views on my blog counter, literally “crack” to a blogger. The readers at Fark.com could also be quite cruel and cutting in their comments. While I have no proof of this, I always assumed that most of my naysayers on Fark.com looked something like the chunky gamer pictured above. (Getty Images)
Mike Huber was always looking for ways to improve the blog site. A few years ago Mike had an idea to dedicate a section of the Community Blog page to teaching and education and he invited myself along with a few other area educators to be contributors. He also encouraged me to take on Andrew Cuomo who he knew I wasn’t a big fan of due to the way he tried to use “teacher-bashing” as a means to promote himself. I obliged his requests, and even wrote a blog daring Cuomo to come to my school to see for himself what the job really entailed. I also asked Mike if he might have my story printed in the actual paper. I wasn’t looking for money mind you, and I don’t think money was ever a serious consideration for any of my fellow TU bloggers, I just wanted to get my work into print which would have felt like a terrific accomplishment. He said that he would try to get it in the paper, but it never quite made it in, and rarely if ever have any of the other bloggers’ work made it into the paper, even though some of them like my friend and fellow blogger David Kalish is not only a published author, but worked for the Associated Press for many years. No offense to the Times Union, but the TU is to the Associated Press, what Elise Stefanik is to Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
I couldn’t help but feel somewhat frustrated over the fact that here we have a newspaper that is hemorrhaging money, and unable to give its skeleton staff a raise, but for some reason has been completely opposed to trying to incorporate a few new voices into its fold. If you read the Sunday Opinion page of the TU, you become inundated with columns by local members of the community who range from retired judges, to retired lawyers, to retired school administrators, to retired college professors. While I’m sure the thoughts of these fair individuals resonate loudly with the “liver spot” segment of the reading audience, why not try a few new voices? You have very fine professional and semi-professional writers from your Community Blog Page just waiting for the opportunity to showcase their work in either your Saturday or Sunday edition, why not tap into these potential talents? I mean, I don’t claim to be talented like your paid blogging star who proposes such seismic and soul defining questions such as “Red or black? Which color do you prefer when you play checkers?” However, there are many of us who could have given a little oxygen to your opinion pages. I’m not saying that prison reform isn’t important, but it seems like every two weeks somebody’s opinion on the subject makes its way onto your paper and then into my fire pit.
I’m not going to lie, while I didn’t come in first often, when I did, I did a little bragging. Why? I’m not really sure, but I suppose it felt like I was achieving something in spite of the Times Union as opposed to achieving success with their blessing. (Times Union)
Will I miss being able to say that, “I blog for the Times Union,” sure. It adds a certain gravitas to one’s list of accomplishments. However, after writing two, 2000 plus word blogs-a-week for several years, including the one I did on teaching and education, I’ve scaled back a lot over the past year or two due to other writing endeavors and general burnout. When you have to search for ideas as opposed to ideas popping up in your head, it may be time to move on, and perhaps this Community Blog shut-down will allow me to walk away from the world of blogging for a little while as opposed to always feeling like I have to churn another one out. I will miss the TU Community Blog page as an outlet, and being part of a group of people who cared about this community and skillfully shared their opinions and thoughts with our loyal readers.
The tale of the tape, at least according to the stats page for WordPress is one I’m proud of. I have posted 435 blogs since December of 2014, and my blog has been viewed approximately 309,018. Some 216,267 unique individuals have made their way to the “Hoffman Files,” and hopefully they found their journey satisfying. Honestly I’m not sure if these numbers are good, bad or ugly, but they sound impressive. Of course it’s not just about the views and viewers. The critical accolades have really provided me with something to hang my hat upon. One incredibly incisive critic recently referred to the “Hoffman Files” as, “One of the many you see on the Times Union Community Blog page. So I’ve got that going for me.
Why is this man smiling? Well, this was my last, first day of school, and apparently this is my last Times Union blog. Here’s to new beginnings, new challenges, new opportunities and not waking up at 5:20 anymore. (Hoffman Collection)
I would of course be remiss if I didn’t thank all of the different Facebook page administrators and blog site editors who were kind enough to post my blog in as many places as I could stick it for the past six plus years. I also want to thank all of my family and friends for their support, kind words, and constructive criticism that I believe made me a better writer, which was one of my goals. I also want to thank my wife Michelle who has always stood by me and cheered me on despite the fact that we haven’t made a god-damned dime from this, and the various administrators at the school district where I work for being supportive and in fact being very complimentary regarding my blog.
Going forward, I hope to have my own blog site up and running sooner than later, as well as hopefully getting my first work of fiction published that I recently finished, and to be able to continue my writing as I prepare for my retirement from teaching after 31 years. Until then, remember, we are a nation of great possibility and potential. Look what we’ve done with the Oreo. Who knew they could come up with this many different flavors? There’s even a Lady Gaga flavor! I recently saw an oreo with a chocolate chip cookie dough center. I’m telling you America, the best is yet to come.