Back and forth

Another advantage of the recent WordPress upgrade means I can now do things like this. The photo is a Prague street scene that I found in a newspaper years ago which I decided to depopulate in Photoshop. In the past you could only do this with a special plugin but WordPress changed the user interface a while back from a basic write-text-and-add-media arrangement to a more complex editing system known as Gutenberg. The new editor uses CSS-style blocks which you fill with different types of “content” then shuffle around until you have a layout that you’re happy with. You can do a lot with these blocks but most of the tools that control them are hidden from view behind multiple menus and sub-menus; using the system means you first have to learn and memorise the location and function of all these hidden tools. Users of standalone installations of WordPress are a loyal bunch but there was a very negative reaction to the new editor, so much so that a plugin appeared almost immediately which reverts the interface to the former system. WordPress continues to evolve Gutenberg, however, and now provides a variety of media blocks like this picture-comparison thing. The utility is limited but it looks nice.

I’m in the anti-Gutenberg camp for the most part, especially when looking at the code that makes something like this possible. Most of the posts here are written outside WP as plain text with handwritten HTML tags; Gutenberg adds loads of new tags and instructions that clutter up the back end. I may work as a book designer but a print-style layout isn’t what I want to emulate for these pages. (And the Adobe applications I use don’t hide all their controls unless you really want them to.) Gutenberg is no doubt useful for people with big media websites using WordPress as a CMS to create layouts filled with articles, video and the like. But I’ll be sticking with the old system for now.

T-shirts again


One of the many benefits of upgrading WordPress is that I’ve finally got a proper PayPal-oriented sales interface working on the T-shirts page. So when people click “Buy now” they get a pop-up range of options to select, plus a running total of the shirt cost, all in one place. I might have said “just in time for summer” but after last month’s heatwave the forecast here is for 16C tomorrow. Welcome to the North.

Also, I’m not bothering cross-posting this one to Twitter because bollocks to that place. Twitter killed WordPress auto-posting a while back, and since I’ve reinstalled WP it now doesn’t show image previews when I manually post them. There may be a solution to the latter issue but I really can’t be bothered finding it.

Update: Added a Summerisle shirt based on this design. Also new options for long sleeves and tie-dyes.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Getting shirty again
Getting shirty
More shirts
T-shirts by Skull Print

Maintenance 2


“Ralph in his space flyer overhauls the Martian, Llysanorh. He will trap him with his Ultra-Generator.” A scene from Ralph 124C 41 + written by Hugo Gernsback.

Another public service announcement to say that the aforementioned server replacement has now taken place. In fact I’ve moved my site to a new webhost after service at the previous place had become increasingly poor. Most of today has been occupied with upgrading WordPress and installing the database on the new server. This is always a tricky business if you’re not used to the eccentricities of WordPress or moving databases around. I can do all this but, like Bartleby the Scrivener, I prefer not to. The effort was worth it, however, the software is now more future-proof than it was, and the site is finally https which may please some people. I still have to check web pages for missing images and the like so if you see anything that looks awry please leave a comment. Regular service will resume tomorrow.

Five thousand


It’s that Hollow Earth again.

Post no. 5000 breaks the format of earlier stock-taking posts by doing without a Roman numeral for its title. MMMMM isn’t technically wrong but the Romans used a V with a horizontal line over it to signify 5000, a symbol that I imagine the temperamental coding of this site would refuse. No matter.

Post no. 4000 (January 8, 2016) arrived almost a year after I’d stopped writing every day, and had consequently seen visits decline as a result. (You can’t really talk about “readership” here when most visits will be from people looking for pictures of some sort.) The WordPress stats show that visitor numbers had been falling even before I stopped the daily posting routine, no doubt as a result of the uptake in social media. What’s interesting about the present moment is that the visitor numbers have been rising again at a time when disenchantment with social media is growing. I don’t think these two things are connected—I’m bound to see more visitors if I’m writing more often, as I have been since mid-2020—but it’s a curious thing sticking with an endeavour like this while vast internet edifices rise and fall around you. Since stepping away from social media myself I value the autonomy of this place all the more. Another development since 2016 is the rise of Substack, and a return (although it never really went away) to long-form writing. Most Substack contributors that I’ve seen are producing essays but a few have been creating collections of miscellaneous items that away from the site would be regarded as old-fashioned blog posts.

One thing that hasn’t changed here is the popularity of the Gay Artists Archive, still the most popular destination by a wide margin. The other very popular page is the Illustrators Archive; both pages serve a function which isn’t supplied elsewhere in quite the same way. People seem to value having someone filter a specific cultural area for them even if (as in my case) they’re only following their own tastes.


Graffiti by Thoma Vuille.

Okay, stock has been taken. Thanks, as always, for reading. Monsieur Chat, the tutelary deity of this place, says “En avant et vers le haut!”

All change


Since I’ve decided to start writing here more frequently I’m also taking advantage of a rare lull between commissions to upgrade the blog. I’ve avoided doing this for far too long with the result that the current three-column appearance is no longer suitable for mobile hardware. I don’t look at websites on my phone but I use a tablet every day and these pages aren’t very readable on small screens so I’m looking for a more flexible blog theme. Before doing this I’ve also been upgrading some of the background software, and will probably be installing things and messing around behind the scenes for the next couple of days. Consequently, the TS Eliot testcard may be visible more than usual while I take WordPress offline.