Friday, December 19, 2008

Bugbones appealed to me...

Bugbones appealed to me. He was my little-child notion of an edgy and sophisticated cartoon fellow. He was cryptic, he was bizarre. Above all, he was gross. Kids love gross. I took to drawing Bugbones with a passion. Notebooks filled with drawings of Bugbones. Slam books of Bugbones. And then, over the years, Bugbones was retired. Bigger and better motifs came to take his place, and Bugbones was relegated to my artist's crypt of old ideas and sketches. I never actually identified with Bugbones. It wasn't my nickname or anything. My picking it at the moment of web page conception was just a fluke. Logging into Angelfire required a user name. Bugbones, lurking now 30 years in his crypt, came creeping out of the cobwebs of my subconscious mind. Original user names are not easy to come by. I like original ones, no numbers. I had plenty of fodder... actual old nicknames of mine, characters I identified with, or just silly bits of conversation that existed in the stock repertoire of my own memory. Bugbones was odd, but it was (I thought) original. True, it might not fit with my eventual goal, of publishing my artwork. But I think by then I already knew that Bugbones would be my teether. I couldn't upload tons of art, I didn't even own a scanner. I didn't even own a computer, for heaven's sake! But I could do Paintbrush files. And I could create funny jokes and stories. Bugbones would suit my purpose. I could do a cartoon site or newsletter. And when the time came to change it, Angelfire's T and C assured, I could choose my own domain name. It could be anything. Yes, it could be anything.

Oh, the perils of Bugbones!

Why Bugbones?

Why Bugbones? Funny you should ask that. It is an odd name. The legend of Bugbones goes way, way back into the stone age of my youth. Bugbones was a strange little character that I drew when I was a kid. It wasn't even my idea. Some boy had drawn one in school and showed one to me. (Yes, even then little-boy artists were inviting me to come up to the studio and see their etchings. Sometimes I did, too.) Bugbones was edgy. He was wild. He was a strange little skeleton in a stiff, robotic pose. He stood like Michael Jackson, in Thriller: one arm stuck up, one down, kind of pivoted from the elbow. Walk-like-an-egyptian! Bugbones had little cracks running through his bones and skull. And there were bugs crawling on him, little creepy spiders that hung from his limbs. His grin was grim, his nose was hollow. Come to think of it, he really was a lot like Michael Jackson.

Oh, the perils of Bugbones!


As I said, I burned cyber-rubber on my way back to Angelfire. I wanted that free web page. Wow, it was amazing to me, the thought that someone would be kind enough to give someone a page. Now, you may wonder why I didn't start my first page on Yahoo. I already had their e-mail account. The truth is, I don't know if Yahoo even offered web hosting back then. My information on the Internet and how it works was being assembled in the same fashion as my web page: piecemeal, bit by bit. I added things as I learned of them. The extent of my knowledge about the Internet and how it works was now: (1) You can surf it. Surf, I now knew, meant to click on links and read things. (2) You can search. Searching was a way to find links. (3) You can e-mail. And you don't have to have your own computer to do it. (4) You can get a free website at Angelfire.

Angelfire. The name appealed to me. I am an artist, an idealist, and a hopeless romantic. Angelfire sounded so brilliant, so mystical, so beautiful. Angelfire. And they gave you a free site. What an angel!

Bugbones. My own name sounded so... I don't know. Gross. Ugly. Strange. It wasn't Angelfire...

Oh, the perils of Bugbones!

Angelfire, e-mail and SPAM

Now that I had e-mail, I could start a website. Man, I burned cyber-rubber on my way back to Angelfire to sign up for that free home page. Well, it might not have been that fast. Actually in the interim, I had spent several weeks discovering that friends of mine had e-mail, and spamming them with a flurry of jokes. SPAM was a new concept. I had not yet been on the receiving end of it. Back then, SPAM was a fairly new concept. There was SPAM, but we were not yet experiencing massive amounts of it. The SPAMbots had not yet begun to devour our free time. Those were the glory days of e-mailing. Then, the spiders were quietly building their web. Still in the creeping stage, they were secretly harvesting e-mail addresses. And they were laying their egg sacs, biding their time. But I was no professional SPAMMER. I was merely a hapless fly. A Bugbones-style splat in the middle of their web. Like all newbies, I sent out my jokes. I once asked a friend if she minded. "Well," she said, "yours are not bad. At least your jokes are funny. I think you must just send the best ones you get." (Yes, I do, preen, preen.) "But it would be nice if you'd send an actual letter now and then." I took her advice, and from there out, I toned down the jokes and sent more letters.

Oh, the perils of Bugbones.

Yee-ha! Yahoo Mail, here we come!

Now that I knew you could have e-mail without being a computer owner, I was a happy camper. Yahoo! came highly recommended, so Yahoo it was. I found Yahoo and started the process of signing up. Ouch! This would be my first of many more experiences with frustrating sign-ups and log-ins. First came the user names. Taken. Taken. Taken! I soon discovered that you had to be pretty creative about nicknames, unless you wanted to be Joe999999. But it's not too hard for me to come up with creative nicknames. My friends and family have given me a variety of appellations. They love to call me names. After the user name came the frustrating password errors. Four dozen tries. My arms nearly fell off! I started hacking in a frenzy, and voila! Open sesame! Suddenly, I was in! But by then ~ you guessed it. The enchanted password had been anger-driven gibberish. It was a secret password all right. Not even I had a clue. I had a user name and a password, but not a clue as to what the password was. I couldn't ask them to e-mail me a new password, because I had no e-mail. That's what I was trying to get! So, I had to add a one (1) to the end of that coveted first username of mine. And do the whole process over again. Many times, I have envied the person who finally got my first user name when that account probably expired for lack of use. But, no matter. Just think of it. Now I had mail! That mystical critter, e-mail, that I had heard about for so long... All the TV ads: You've got mail! Bling! And now, I actually did have! I e-mailed my friend, Terri.
"Yahoo!" she said. "I'm glad you picked an e-mail address that reflects your mountain heritage."

Oh, the perils of Bugbones...

Bump in the Information Superhighway

Angelfire required an e-mail account. Letdown! Frown-face! I didn't have a computer. How I envied all of those roadies, speeding down the information superhighway in their brand-new e-Machines! But I had no computer. I was still sitting by the roadside with my thumb stuck out. No computer; hence, no e-mail. (What the heck was e-mail, anyway? Ah, I think surely I knew that much, even then.) E-mail was the thing you got when you clicked that Eudora thingy on a PC desktop, if you had one. But the library computer didn't have that thingy. Or if it did, it was off limits to me. Drat! But at least I could type a letter in Wordpad and print it at the library now. Even that was a great improvement over handwritten drafts or pecking at my early-80s-era electric typewriter (the one that punched holes in the paper). So, I began word-editing with a will. Mainly, I typed letters to send to my friend, Charlene. But e-mail, I did not type. I went to the library and typed letters, or I moped at home. It all seemed so frustrating. Finally, someone (probably that same button-pushing niece) clued me in that you could get e-mail without having your own PC. Off to the library I sped.

Oh, the perils of Bugbones!