The FAQs of 'Kus
April 23, 2004
One post, two sites = Score one for my lazy ass!
As I mentioned earlier, I've been working on a Frequently Asked Questions for the Haiku Smackdown site. In my head. Every morning. While I brush my teeth. No one has actually asked me all of these questions, but I'm answering them anyway, because...
Well, just because. I already posted them over at www.haikusmackdown.com, but because I love them so I'm putting them here too. So once you read them here you can go read them again at the other site! AND you can go to www.jlbrigade.com and see what clever blurby thing I write about them there! It's like reruns, only cooler.
So here it is: Everything You Wanted To Know About The Thursday Haiku Smackdown But Were Afraid To Ask Or Simply Hadn't Cared Enough To Ask.
1) What the hell is this?
Please clarify what you mean by the word “this.” (This site, this Smackdown thing in general, this scabby rash on your privates, etc.)
2) Ok, what the hell is the Thursday Haiku Smackdown?
The Thursday Haiku Smackdown is a beloved and venerable blogging tradition dating all the way back to March of 2004. It crawled out of the primordial ooze of Amy’s comment boards and soon developed a wicked sense of humor and opposable thumbs. You can read all about the Birth of Smackdown here.
The Smackdown has been held every Thursday since and rotates each week to another blog maintained by one of the original Smackdown participants. We post a post, you go crazy on the comment board all damn day with your haikus. That’s pretty much it, although it’s really much more fun and brilliant than it sounds.
3) And what the hell is with this site? Is this where the Smackdown is hosted now?
Yes and no. We still rotate because we all like the crazy hits on Thursdays, but www.haikusmackdown.com is part of the regular rotation. So sometimes it will be hosted here. Most of the time? No.
Zoot kindly registered and built this site so the Smackdown would have a place to rest its weary bones Fridays through Wednesdays. We archive all the haikus here, we announce this week’s host here, we announce the Grand Haiku Master here. We also sometimes post other things here that are vaguely haiku related, which usually entail someone else ripping off our idea. (Cartoon Network and craigslist? I am looking at you, bitches.)
We also registered this site because someday we’ll trademark Haiku Smackdown and then retire from the profits. Maybe we’ll sell swag, maybe we’ll sell the movie rights. We’re still working on that part.
4) Who is this “we” person I’ve been hearing so much about?
When I say “we,” I of course mean myself and my multiple personalities: Amy, Eve, Bertrand and Chesty St. Clair.
No, I mean The Powers That Be over here in Smackdownland. The original ‘ku-ers. The Judith Light Brigade (itself born of haiku in the second week of Smackdown). Specifically: Amy of Amalah, Chris of RudeCactus, Coleen of Hussified, Lauren of New Jan Brady, Leigh of Miss Doxie and Zoot of well, Zoot. (Dude, I totally did the alphabetical order thing by accident.)
Anyway, we are the boss of you. Don’t fuck with us.
5) What’s a haiku?
First of all, you is stupid. Second of all, haiku is a traditional form of Japanese poetry. It’s a single 17-syllable verse consisting of three non-rhyming metrical units of 5, 7, and 5 syllables. “True” haiku should always contain a seasonal word or local color and should be the poet’s first impression of simple theme or everyday object.
Of course, with a name like Haiku Smackdown, we’ve obviously bastardized the true form a little. You must obey the syllable convention, and we prefer if you keep your ‘ku to one verse only. (You can post as many as you feel like, so spread them out, one at a time. Patience, young grasshopper.) Seasonal words and cherry blossom imagery? Bleh. Whatever.
Here are some of my favorite ‘kus from days gone by:
I miss The Muppets.
The theme song is stuck in the
windmills of my mind.
Watch your backs, people
Make way for the charge of the
Judith Light Brigade
Haikus been too clean.
"Ass" only bad word used, yo.
Fuck shit bitch tampon.
Holy living crap.
Note to self: Disable that
Emailed comments thing.
Don't want all the fat
Of traditional Judith?
Try new Judith Light.
6) If I post a haiku and get the syllable count wrong, will you laugh at me?
7) Who’s hosting this week?
This Thursday’s host can always be found at the top right-hand side of www.haikusmackdown.com.
8) No, you’re wrong. It still shows last week’s host!
Oh my God, calm down. It’ll be updated by Wednesday-ish at the latest. Promise.
Lord, it’s not like you have to travel or buy plane tickets or something.
9) What time is the Smackdown?
The Smackdown runs all day Thursday. The host is responsible for posting and opening the comments board as early as possible, but it changes depending on the host. If the host is giddy like a kid on Christmas morning? Midnight on Wednesday night. If the host is sick of yer bitching and doesn’t want unsupervised ‘kuing goin’ on? Then they might not post until they wake up Thursday morning and can participate themselves. The majority (but not all) of our host sites are U.S. EST, if that helps.
As for an ending time, the Smackdown is usually all smacked out by midnight-ish. But as long as people are ‘ku-ing, it can run all damn night for all we care. It’s more fun when there are multiple participants still online, but some people don’t mind ‘ku-ing to the void in the wee hours of the morning. It’s better than killing strippers, I guess, so we tend to let them go.
10) Will refreshments be served?
Yes. Punch and pie will be provided.
11) What’s the Grand Haiku Master and who do I need to sleep with to become one?
Almost every week, except for when we forget, a Grand Haiku Master is crowned post-Smackdown. This goes to the person who wrote the best haiku of the day. It’s all based on a highly technical scoring system that is too complicated to explain here.
No, not really. It goes to whoever we think wrote the funniest ‘ku.
The Grand Master gets to use a nifty little banner on their site that announced their superiority. Chris made it. It’s quite cool and you know you totally want it.
You’ll also want to suck up to and/or send money to Amy and Chris if you want to win. Or else just be really funny and make us laugh.
12) I wrote 57 haikus last Thursday and I still didn’t win Grand Master. Waaaaaahhhh! I hate you!
It’s about quality, not quantity. Maybe you should not write so many boring sucky ones. And maybe you should shut yer yapping.
13) Why do you give us themes and pictures now? I liked it better before. Waaaaaahhhh! I hate you!
Ok, so in the early weeks of the Smackdown, it was kind of a free-for-all. We just wanted as many participants and haikus as possible. But there were problems. It got boring. No one could read them all. We crashed comment boards. People haikued about the weather and puppies and strange rashes and God knows what else. People abbreviated and used smiley faces, for fuck’s sake. Hundreds and hundreds of the most banal ‘kus you ever did not want to read. It was basically a chat room in 5-7-5 form.
To which we were all, “Get your own damn chat room. This is poetry! Art! Culture! Our amusement!"
So we started doing themes which made things only slightly better. Then we started posting weird and random pictures, and we were delighted. People were funny. Creative. Smart. Snarky and smartassy and all that.
So look at it this way: If you show off your wit and humor during the Smackdown and make someone laugh, they’ll click on your site link. They find a new blog; you find a new reader. Everybody wins. If people post hundreds and hundreds of boring haikus, no one really reads them all and no links get clicked on. Waste of fucking time if you ask me.
But all participants are encouraged to use the non-Smackdown posts here at www.haikusmackdown.com to introduce themselves and get to know the other ‘ku-ers. Shake hands, kiss babies, mingle! Let us know who you are, how you found us and what you think. We can actually be really nice once we’ve had our coffee and taken our medications.
14) Can I host the Smackdown?
Maybe. Then again, maybe not. So far we haven’t been too big on granting hosting duties to new sites, though we think it’s a nifty idea. We’re all a bit control-freaky and weird, unfortunately. Chris, in particular, has not left his house since 1987, and Zoot is currently wallpapering her entire house with Smackdown haikus. Also, Amy is a compulsive liar.
15) What kind of traffic do Smackdown host sites get?
It really varies, but the total number of hits seems to fall in the 5-digit range a lot, which is pretty damn decent. Of course, that includes a hell of a lot of refreshes by the same obsessive-compulsive ‘ku-er. But it’s enough hits to mean that you sending us money for things like advertising or product placement? (“Hey everybody, let’s haiku about Diet Coke today!”) Would be a really smart idea on your part.
16) I have a theme/photo/money-making/penis-enlarging idea. Can I send it to you?
Sho’. You can email the Team Haiku member (listed in question 4) you like the best and they’ll share it with the class. Our email addresses are all over our damn sites so write us something already.
17) What’s with all the “yo’s,” yo? Do you guys think yo’ tough or something?
The word “yo” is a lovely all-purpose one-syllable word that comes in handy for completing a haiku. Plus we think it’s funny so we use it a lot. Stop questioning the “yo,” yo. The Judith Light Brigade will step our foot off in yo’ ass if need be. We don’t hold truck with no clowns, etc.
18) Who the fuck do you think you are?
I think I’m pretty hot stuff, frankly.