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Variety Makes the Difference: The Style of Kaboom

Page history last edited by Martin 11 years, 2 months ago

 Table of Contents

 

  1. Introduction 
  1. The Style of Kaboom 

2.1 Introducing Biographical Information 

2.2 Bringing the Readers to War: A Stream of Consciousness

2.3 Variety makes the Difference: Pop Culture, Comedy, and Poetry

     3.   Conclusion  

  1.   Works Cited

 

1. Introduction

   

Writing on the Web

  

The style used on web pages, blogs, or online forums obviously differs from text forms found in books or magazines. Because of the huge amount of offered and available texts on the internet, language and text structure has to be more appealing to the eye. A few things are most important for writing on the web:

 

  1. It has to attract the user’s attention immediately
  2. Text body has to be scannable and easy to access
  3. Keyword should to be highlighted or hyperlinked
  4. The texts have to look like credible sources of information

 

Do the Same Rules Apply to Blogging?

  

Form and language of a blog are very much dependent on the individual who keeps it. Most blogs are a mix of what is happening in a person's life and what they feel about things they see on the Web. In this respect, they are a kind of hybrid diary and guide, although there are as many unique types of blogs as there are people who keep them.

 

How Does a Good and Successful Blog Look Like?

 

There are thousands of online guides available which describe the “dos and don’ts” of successful blogging but it can be narrowed down to a few basic rules: 

 

1. Add a little bit about yourself along with a photo. One does not have to give a full biography or any real names, but a little background information about the blogger raises the credibility. 

 

2. Give meaningful posting tiles. Non descriptive titles are over-read.

 

3. Give thoughts to a useful navigation within your page. Do not post dead links. 

 

4. People like lists and best-of-lists are the most popular. Thus, use them frequently. 

 

5. Add pictures or videos to make it look interesting. But make sure they are connected to topic.

 

6. Update as often as possible and respond to given comments.

 

(summary of different sources, no direct quotes) 

What about Mil-blogs?

 

Milblogs are the general term for blogs of service members, veterans, and family members are blogging from home, from the base, or the battlefield. With today’s technical possibilities, soldiers have instantaneous and direct communication from the battlefield to virtually anywhere in the world.

 

Basically, the same rules of blogging apply with two important rules to be taken into account: 

The posting of sensitive military information has to be avoided at all cost. Therefore, the content of postings has to be checked and OPSEC approved. 

 

“And no worries, Spooks. The author is not going to shatter the crystal vase that is OPSEC, because his CO proofs everything that is posted. He thinks the author is special, but in a very different way than Momma G thinks the author is special.”

 

                                                                                  Lt G in his disclaimer

What is Special About Kaboom?

 

Kaboom was written from November 2007 to June 2008. It is one of the few milblogs to garner attention from the print media (source: usatoday.com) not only because it was taken of the web but also because of the author’s very distinctive writing style. The following text gives an analysis of the different elements LT G used in his blog. 

 

2. The Style of Kaboom

   

“Embracing the Suck. 

 Happiness is diggity. Thus”

                                                                       LT G 

2.1 Introducing Biographical Information 

 

 

Lt G in Iraq

  

LT G does not give a vitae or any further descriptions about his person in his profile. It only contains a picture of him, his job (which is obvious already), and information about his hobbies, favourite movies and music.

  

LT G chose a different way to give his biographical background to the reader: 

 

1. His first post does not really serve as an introduction to his blog but starts with LT G’s conceptions of the social area he grew up in.

   

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Escaping a proper introduction 

Where I come from, people don’t really join the military. It’s the modern Americana, where layers of white-collar contentment shield fears of a higher unknown and blueblooded pipedreams. Reno may sound like a unique place – and it is, at least the inner urban part that wavers between the rustic and the bizarre – but decades of suburban buildup has eroded that authenticity. The military, generally, does not come into play for this youth. Better off having someone else’s sons and daughters protect us. Life is to be enjoyed, not to suffer through - and certainly not to explore.

The typical life – which is, of course, all too typical - includes a little high school baseball glory, followed by some middling years at the University of Nevada. Then, if you’re lucky, you complete enough school to attain a dentist practice and a vapid trophy wife who enjoys soap operas, blowjobs, and PTA bake sales. If you ever leave Northern Nevada, it’s only on vacation and under the auspicious supervision of guided tours. It’s a happy life, often fueled by the Glories of consumption and Jesus Christ, and consciously ignorant of such. …

 ...

That’s the world I came from. I was a part of both once, though not at the same time. There’s a reason most soldiers grow up in rougher neighborhoods than this. There’s a reason most soldiers grow up hunting deer in the woods instead of hunting for the right-sized designer tee shirt at Abercrombie & Fitch. And there’s a reason most soldiers come from the breadbasket of rural America and not from west coast suburbs: we want to win the wars. 

Joke’s on me, I know, for avoiding all that. It would’ve been such a pretty life. But don’t tell me “I’m sorry,” or gasp an “oh dear!” when you see me home on leave visiting my family, and you hear that I’m now in the Army. Save your condescending prattle for yourselves. I chose not to indulge. I escaped for a reason. 

This is my world now.

  

He obviously avoided starting his blog with a boring on-the-fly representation of himself. There are no phrases like:

 

Well, here I am, 

I’m from Reno (along with remarks about the what-so-ever baseball team…)

By the way, a big hello to all my friends

I chose to start this blog because…

 

But nevertheless, in the beginning there has to be an introduction. Therefore, by giving a very cynical description of his hometown he packs a lot of important information in it. It includes: 

 

-         His surroundings and the way of life that goes along with it 

-         His social background

-         His education (although not in detail)

-         How the idea of joining the Army is  

-         His (slightly negative) mindset towards everything mentioned above and

-         That this is a new chapter of his life, starting now.

 

This first post does not only give an introduction to his particular writing style, but also contains detail about his character, his person, his background, and his attitude.  

The second post was made 5 days later and appeased those readers who might have felt distaste for his rather negative remarks. 

  

Thursday, November 22, 2007

An Addendum 

After re-reading my initial post, I figured I’d clarify a few things before my family refers me to Dr. Phil for a conference call about the importance of accepting others in day-to-day existence:

 

1) While easily disillusioned, I am not nearly as negative a person as you might think from that first post. I just have a very conflicted love-hate relationship with my home, and American suburbia in general. If you grew up in southwest Reno, you’d understand. I still am a shameless momma’s boy though, due to Momma G's unwavering inner strength, and my little brother - better known as Luke G the Rascal King - is literally the toughest person I know, so maybe it’s not as bad as I perceive it to be. After all, we are all products of where we come from, whether we like it or not. 

 

4) While I’ve been accused of being a self-aggrandizing maniac, I guess this is still better than the rampant low self-esteem and depression that pollutes most of my generation. I mean, of course I’m as awesome as I think I am … why wouldn’t I be?

  

He explains more about his character and at the same time, he adds information about his family. He does it in list style. Remember? Readers like lists.

 

In the following posts, he introduces the US Army, his unit and base.

   

Friday, November 23, 2007

Tropicana 

Due to a series of technical transformations and bureaucratic futility, it has been a solid three years since my unit has deployed. … Myself, I’ve been in Hawaii for about a year-and-a-half now … I don’t know, all I can say is that it’s disturbing watching the most powerful fighting force in the history of the world slowly bleed out while you drink Mai Tai’s at Duke’s at Waikiki Beach and shamelessly flirt with morally casual female tourists, just waiting for your turn to join the fight.

Might have something to do with the fact that the Schofield barracks haven’t been renovated since they filmed the movie there some fifty years ago. Or that my house is literally five minutes from where that famous beach scene took place. …

 

In the course of the blog, he continuously includes information about himself, his girlfriend, or his family. He adds complete sections which tell in flashback-like manner. He either gives hole sections with events at home or in his past, or he webs them into topics concerning other matters like the following.

 

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Just another winter night in the Middle East 

The night before we departed Kuwait for Iraq, I couldn’t sleep.  

A midnight bus ride through the Sierra Nevadas' initially brought City Girl into my life.  

We were riding back from a track meet in California. It was the spring of 2001, mere months before I graduated onto new, grander (mis)adventures. Most of the team was sleeping, but Awkward the Red (LT G’s high school persona; aptly named, I assure you) couldn’t. Too anxious. (See a trend here?) Prom was the next night, and my date, Blue Eyes, tortured my thoughts. Out of nowhere, a cute little redheaded freshman girl swooped in and sat down next to me with a shy smile on her face.

“You excited about tomorrow?” she asked.

I had no idea who she was (she was a sprinter, I was a distance runner … we’d never interacted at all), but she was exactly what I needed in that moment. Someone who laughed at my jokes, someone who bantered back at my more outlandish statements. We talked about the absurdity of high school. We talked about her growing up in Queens and then the culture shock of moving to a place like Reno. We talked about how alike she thought Luke G the Rascal King and I were. Hell, we even talked about the insanity of young love (cough cough.)

  

Through the course of his blog, more and more bits and piece of his hometown, his time as a teenager, his family, and his girlfriend are presented. 

 

2.2 The Representation of War: A Stream of Consciousness

 

While seeing the ongoing war in Iraq through the eyes of LT G, for the reader, it starts out to be something abstract, because LT G is still in Kuwait and still far from a combat situation. He supports that impression by turning the content of his posts to other matters.

 

 

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Just another winter night in the Middle East 

Curiously, I hadn’t had this problem at all the night before we left Hawaii. Perhaps it was because I had understood that Kuwait possessed no serious danger to me or my men, or perhaps it was because my brain had still been littered with normal civilian pollution. (For example, one of life’s great mysteries is how Casa del Bachelor LTs received their security deposit back. I loved that house, and not just because we overlooked the Waikiki skyline and the Pacific, but we absolutely destroyed it.

  

The first time he experiences war for real is shared in his post of December 30, 2007. That turning of the switch from training to reality, from blanks to live round is vividly brought to the reader. He also uses the post to calm his mother.

  

Sunday, December 30, 2007

First Impressions 

Machine gun fire crackled in the distance as I sat down to type this. Fitting, in that “for real, dude?” kind of way. Yes, for real. Dude. Machine guns. And not the ones that fire blanks. 

Here are a few additional, often unrelated, thoughts, after my first day spent in the combat zone of Iraq. ….

 

Good news, Momma G – the nearest bunker is literally ten feet away from me and SFC Big Country’s front door. That means when the mortar rounds come in the middle of the night, I can run to the bunker in my underwear, boots, and helmet, run back to my room in just a few seconds to grab my pants out of the hamper, and then scamper back to the bunker with my decency intact.

 

G’s involvement in threatening situations is brought up as they appear in his daily routine. Along with this, LT G's conception of the war changes constantly and he take the reader with him. The save haven of “Little America” has to be abandoned more and more as the situations for LT G gets more severe. Since both, G and his reader, experience this development together (because before he went to war, he was just like them…) the process of identification is boosted further.  

  

Friday, January 4, 2008

Out of the Wire 

Rolling out of the wire is what we call going outside the relative safety of the FOB for missions – where those mysterious, ambiguous terms like “combat” and “the enemy” are found, and where acronyms become experiences and bar tales. 

 

The raid turned up nothing but an empty room, a pack of wild dogs, and an old man holding his piss bag, but later that evening, only a few blocks away from where we handed out Beanie Babies, some of our guys received a burst of AK-47 fire from a rooftop during their initial patrol. No one was hurt, or was even close to being hit, and our unit’s operations staff determined it was nothing more than “harassment fire” meant to test the new sheriffs in town. 

 

I took a sip of from my coffee, shrugged my shoulders, and said fuck it. The first day of my new life was over.

 

As the employment goes on, a rising anxiety is shared, caused by the constant threat of attacks.

  

Monday, January 28, 2008

Graveyard Shift 

 … 

“Everything okay out there, Sir?” one of them asked. “No need to sound the alarms for the Alamo Drill?”

I shook my head and reached for the coffee pot. “Just another quiet night,” I said. “Nothing doing.”

That was a slight untruth, of course. There’s always something doing at our combat outpost, even if it is just the routine soft steps of scouts prowling the premises, protecting their brethren until the next shift comes to relieve them. Watching. Listening. And waiting.

  

This state of extersion is soon released into the real horrors of war as they happen in reality, not on TV. The posts during G’s ongoing engagements are filled with descriptions of combat situation, bombings, and assassinations of various political figureheads.

 

 

Friday, February 1, 2008

Mob War   

 

Local Sawha leader – the aforementioned Boss Johnson – had been blown up only the night before. Up-armored military vehicles are damaged, and occasionally destroyed, by IEDs, rockets, and mortar rounds. Human beings in shabby fake Mercedes that are targeted for a hit job with the same weapons get catastrophically mutilated into flesh soup. 

The threat of civil war constantly looms over Iraq like the ghost of an heiress bride killed on her honeymoon, haunting the lover who murdered her. 

 

What seems to cause the worst tension for LT G is the combination of the boring daily routine and the constant threat of a hostile and deadly reality lurking behind every corner outside of “Little America”.

  

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Lost in the Lull 

Nothing is when it is still today and you already don’t remember tomorrow. 

As we approach the 100-day mark, I’ve come to two realizations: One, I might have no choice but to live through this thing after all, and two, bored and listless is no way to go through life. Obviously, there are far greater horrors in war than monotony, but I doubt any are so deliberate, sucking away at the soldier’s inner Hooah-beat like a parasitical terrorist bug. 

 

Here’s to the loneliest moments of our lives. 

 

There’s not one combat soldier here who leaves the wire absolutely certain he’ll return, but that doesn’t stop us from planning on it. We’ve been trained thoroughly enough, and have learned through experience, that when shit happens, we won’t have time to think about it.

War is long stretches of boredom interrupted by brief moments of sheer terror.

 

While describing combat situation, LT G usually changes the narrative perspective from 3rd person to the ego perspective. He puts the reader right into his position and lets him keep track of every single thought during the situation. The reader becomes part of G’s consciousness and experiences the danger, confusion, or whatever feeling rises, not only through the eyes but also through the mind of the blogger.

  

 

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Night of Gun-Toting, Barrel-Blazing Ghost Pandas 

Gunfire in Iraq is not a rare thing – especially at night. Most of the time, the scattered, random shots heard somewhere off in the distant shadows fade away with time, not warranting any American attention other than a brief radio report sent from the roof of the combat outpost. That’s most of the time. Occasionally though, the scattered, random shots do not fade – instead progressing into something military vernacular junkies describe as “direct” and “sustained;” i.e. a firefight. This kind of gunplay tends to require our own special brand of attentive intervention. The night of the ghost pandas was one of these times. 

 

 Frantic, panicked pointing transcends most known language barriers 

“Ali Baba shoot us! From down there!” 

“Yes! Yes! Ali Baba! Shoot! We shoot back!” 

“We shoot back lots!” 

“Okay … did you actually see who was firing at you?” 

Nope. 

“Okay … did any of their bullets actually hit anything around here? Like damage or something?” 

Double nope. 

“Okay … did any of you do anything but fire indiscriminately in the general vicinity that you heard gun shots come from?” 

 

They ran up to us, and frantic, panicked pointing followed. 

“Ali Baba shoot us! From up there!” 

“Yes! Yes! Ali Baba! Shoot! We shoot back!” 

“We shoot back lots!”

Sigh.

 

2.3 Variety makes the Difference: Pop Culture, Comedy, and Poetry

   

Kaboom is riddled popculture references. Right from the beginning, it is clarified that the author is aware of his cultural surroundings. Always up to date with all recent events within the bubble American entertainment “culture”, he uses this knowledge as a never desiccating source of inspiration to keep the reader amused. His references are used for a large variety of purposes:

 

-     Most cover names are names of popular movie characters (like The Godfather, Jubba the Hut, Biggi Smalls, or Toni Montana, etc.), taken over from generally know movies or TV series.

  

-   He comments recent events within that sphere on a regular base.

 

-   A lot of jokes target American celebrities.  

 

LT G extended knowledge about movies, series, and music is a supportive tool to describe his surroundings. It is much easier for the reader to comprehend certain situations, if surreal parallels to images or stories are drawn. LT G’s own concept of war was greatly influenced by movies and he often compares certain combat situations to similar done scenes. 

 

 

Monday, February 4, 2008

Movement to Contact

 Shit had hit the proverbial fan, and my mind was as blank as purgatory itself. I was desperately trying to recall the book answer to this situation, but all I could come up with was using our Stryker as a shield while we actioned on the objective, like I had seen paratroopers do with tanks in an episode of Band of Brothers. I looked back up to see SSG Boondock already directing my vehicle to do just that.

 

Furthermore, G gives his literary quotes or poems by posting his “Dead Guy Quotes” on a regular basis.

He picks a wide range of important “quotable” people (his mother is one of them). By looking at just a few of his earlier quotes one can get a small impression. Greek philosophers are as well included as popular musicians or freedom fighters.

  

“The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out and meet it.” – Thucydides

 

"If I'm free, it's because I'm always running." -- Jimi Hendrix

 

"Many will call me an adventurer – and that I am, only one of a different sort. One of those who risks his skin to prove his platitudes." – Che Guevera #

 

3. Conclusion

 

The ones who had a look at it may have notices that Kaboom is probably by far the longest and most elaborated mil-blog available. Therefore only a few aspects of its sophisticated style could be taken into account. But the basic concept became clear. G bets on variety to make his blog interesting. 

 

           A Very sophisticated language 

          Wide range of vocabulary, an ectensive literary knowledge

          Frequent use of metaphors, historical, and mythological motives

          A lot of pop culture references (mostly taken from music, movies, cartoon heroes)

          Humoristic, comical, almost standup comedy style

          Ability to combine personal, political and profound information in a entertaining way

 

Trying to sum it up, the Kaboom excels due to the clever combination of these stylistic elements and is therefore one of the most appraised mil-blogs of the recent war.

 

Works Cited 

 

http://kaboomwarjournalarchive.blogspot.com/ 

http://thelanguageofblogs.typepad.com/ 

http://www.ou.edu/deptcomm/dodjcc/groups/06A/capstone.pdf 

http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761579872/World_Wide_Web.html in General

http://encarta.msn.com/dictionary_701704685/blog.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warblog 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaboom:_A_Soldier%27s_War_Journal 

 

 

 

 

 

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