Promises, Promises

If you read my post about moving this blog from here to, I mentioned that I was going to attempt to migrate the email subscriptions from this site to that.

I have been unsuccessful in doing that. I think. So, I encourage you all, right now (!) to follow this link, navigate to the side bar, and sign up to receive posts by email at the new site. It’s easy, really, and from then on you need never miss a post.



The Future of Somber and Dull – Part 2

A little over a month ago, I wrote about “The Future of ‘Somber and Dull'”. The title concerned a few of you who were worried that I would be shutting the blog down. Your fears were only partially justified. I do no longer intend to post to this site. It’s been a great run and I will miss the irony and, shall I say the decency, to which that title referred. But in the end, too few caught the allusion and the name generally bred confusion.

So, the time has come for a re-boot. And so though “Somber and Dull” will no longer be updated, I will continue to write. Forthwith (rarely do I get to use that word) I will be posting at For that title lacks in modesty and literary allusion, it gains in clarity.

If you navigate there,  you will find much to be the same. All the posts from my Blogger days and my days are there. Everything. The arrangement of the pages is slightly different, but I think no one will have any trouble finding their way around. If you do, please let me know.

I to soon return to a weekly or bi-weekly posting frequency. Recently, managing the migration has consumed most of my writing time. I’m still tweaking and adjusting the new site and if I know me, I’ll never be completely satisfied. But eventually I’ll leave it be and use my time more profitably.

Some of you subscribe to my posts via an RSS feed. You can continue to do so by simply directing your RSS reader to

Others of you subscribe via email. I am going to attempt to port the email subscriptions from this site to the other. The key word there is ‘attempt’. I have a post that is scheduled to go live early Monday at the new site. If you are an email subscriber and have not received that post in your inbox by Monday morning, that will mean that I failed in the transfer. In that case, the solution is easy. Go to the new site and click on the subscribe button in the sidebar.

I may end up in time simply pointing the URL of this site to the new one so that any attempt to find “Somber and Dull” will lead directly to the new site.

Thanks for all who have stuck with me. I hope to see you ‘on the other side’.


Sometimes life gets ahead of my ability to keep up. Working on a post, an extension of the Biblical Decency theme I’ve been pondering, I accidentally posted it Sunday night before it was ready to go live. I quickly took it down, but those of you who receive this blog via email or rss feeds would have received it as it was and those can’t be erased. For what it is worth, then, you have a post that is in progress and half-baked. You can toss it, read it, or do whatever you want with it, but when I get a chance, you are going to see some form of it, hopefully improved, again. My apologies.

Helping “Somber and Dull” Find its Future

There are two (or three!) ways you can help this blog map its future. The first is easy. I’ve created a simple survey which shouldn’t take you more than a minute or two to complete. Please click here. This will help me think through what has resonated with my readers and how this content gets to them. (A link to this survey is also on the sidebar.)

The second is a bit more difficult. I am deeply grateful to those of you who have generously supported this blog over this past year. Your generosity is enabling me to take the steps that are necessary to move forward. The need for financial support will continue on into the future. So, if any would like to help us as we move forward, you can contribute by clicking here. I am very grateful. (There is a link to this also on the sidebar.)

Finally, any time you can direct traffic to this site, do so! If something strikes your fancy, pass it on to others. It’s the only way, really, any will find their way here. This will especially be true when we kick off the new site.


The Future of “Somber and Dull”

I love writing this blog, and I am gratified by the kind words many of you often pass my way in response. Some of what has been written here has resonated in an encouraging and helpful way with some of you. When “Somber and Dull” lay dormant for a couple of years, a few of you kept prodding me to resurrect it, and so I did. I like to think I have things to say that are worth saying, and this blog gives me the space to say them. I am trying to contribute something positive and helpful regarding how we are to live as Christians and the church in the modern world.

So far, I have written for a core of very loyal readers, a core who either are fond of the name “Somber and Dull” or who are not put off by it. But as I consider ways to grow the readership of the blog, I think the time has come to put the title out to pasture.

“Somber and Dull” was chosen as the title of this blog on a whim when I started it in October, 2006. You can read about that here and here.

The title and its ironic sensibilities grew on me and a few others. Others, however, are puzzled by it. In fact, the title confuses even internet sales algorithms, one of which thought this week that it would be suitable to inform me that the domain name ‘somberandstupid’ was available if I wanted to purchase it.
I’ll pass, but the point was received. The title is too obscure.

Soon, therefore, I will be giving this site a good makeover christening it with a new name and a new URL. You won’t see the changes soon, and I’ll give plenty of warning.
By Enrico Mevius - Self-photographed, CC BY-SA 3.0 de,
As I was thinking through this, I drove by a pond and watched a duck start at one end and madly flap his wings trying to gain altitude and speed. That will be me trying to move this blog along. I may crash into the far end of the pond, but that’s okay. There may also be a chance to soar.

Hello, World

As some might have figured out, I’ve been flying “Somber and Dull” this summer on autopilot. The posts on David Crumps Knocking on Heaven’s Door (which began here) were prepared in June and have been posting automatically through the summer months.

I, meanwhile, have been chasing family through Georgia-Tennessee-Ohio-Michigan and have been chased by yellow-jackets in North Carolina. Around those exciting events I’ve been keeping up on my day job and having way too much fun working on another very involved writing project. And, now and then, I’ve watched movies and read books finishing, among other things, Dombey and Son (begun here) and being not all that impressed. And occasionally, but not often enough, I’ve sat on the back porch and stared at the clouds.

But the summer is coming to an end and so I’m fixin’ (!) to get back to the more regular, and consequently eclectic, postings. Stay tuned.

Branding, 3

A while back I posted some thoughts about branding, particularly the wisdom of calling a blog meant to be engaging and playful “Somber and Dull”. That generated some fun feedback and, in the end, I’m happy sticking with the title. There certainly is no competition for the domain name.

While these things were on my mind, I ran across this picture of the Florence (Kentucky) Mall in the online edition of the Atlantic Monthly.
I was reminded that a branding vs. local ordinance issue led to that distinctive water tower message. Originally, as can be seen here, the water tower was painted with the name of the mall on whose property it resides. Florence2It seemed like a good, though drab, way for the mall to attract the attention of passing motorists.

But then, as I understood it (I lived nearby at the time) local officials protested that commercial advertising was not permitted on water towers or other structures that high. Faced with the prospect of having to repaint the whole water tower, some brilliant person suggested that the two side bars of the ‘M’ in ‘Mall’ be whited over and a stem placed beneath the remaining two lines, forming a ‘Y’. With the addition of the apostrophe, a visual impression was created that is now far more noticed than the original ever would have been. (It has since been re-painted, repeatedly, so that the ‘Y’ looks far more ‘Y-ish’. Originally, it looked like a converted ‘M’.)

There is no moral to this, no reason to point it out other than the fact that I find it interesting and to bemoan that no such event has occurred to make “Somber and Dull” more noticeable to a passing world.

Branding, 2

Speaking of ‘branding’, I ran across this interestingly named barbershop today:


I don’t know what idea this is supposed to conjure in the average person’s mind, but to name a barbershop, one especially with ‘Hot Lather Neck Shaves’, after a woman whose claim to fame was her being beheaded is, well, a bit surprising.

I halfway expect it to be located next door to the ‘St. Joan BBQ’.

It wasn’t.

Lady Jane Getting a Haircut Lady Jane. Getting a haircut.


Branding, oh, how I hate thee. And clearly, I’m lousy at it.

In marketing classes around the country, professors are even now, I’m sure, pointing to a certain web site named ‘Somber and Dull’ as the worst possible title EVER for a blog that has aspirations of drawing thoughtful and engaging readers. It’s as if Coca-cola named itself ‘Brown Sugar Flavored Water’ and hoped to get people to drink it. I never buy dessert at a restaurant. Unless, of course, the restaurant is named CHEESECAKE Factory, and then I have to buy cheesecake.

Branding. It makes a difference.

I was with some fellow pastors the other morning and someone mentioned having read something I had posted on this blog. Some others, unaware that I had a blog, asked for the name of my blog so they could check it out. So I told them. Out loud. I don’t think I’ve ever done that hoping to get people to read it. One of them said something like, “Well, that’s inviting.”

Pastors are such sarcastic souls.

I explained the genesis and background of the title. (You can read about that here.) It makes sense. It’s a meaningful personal story based upon one of my favorite characters in all of fiction. And it once made for a pretty fun April Fools joke.

But it just does not have pizzaz.

So, if you have suggestions, make them. I’m happy to give each suggestion the sober, or somber, consideration it deserves. Especially if you are a marketing professor.

Getting the Red Out of My Eyes

I’m grateful to all of you who have come forward to support this blog. Because of your generosity the blog should now appear to all users completely free of distracting ads. PLEASE LET ME KNOW IF THAT IS NOT THE CASE!

Somewhere in a distant time, in the mid-70s, a college professor returned a piece of writing to me with more red than the original black of my submission. I suspect she meant well. Perhaps she saw in me some potential that she was trying to hone and direct and challenge and improve. Or maybe she was simply tired of crappy student submissions and was taking out on me all her suppressed rage.

It doesn’t matter. The effect was the same: I quit writing anything other than what I had to write. This blog has always been my attempt to tentatively break free from the haunting of all that red ink.

There are not many of you who read this blog, but you who do, and now you who support it, have been a great encouragement for me to get the red out of my eyes. I am grateful.

Every writer who has ever discussed the craft challenges those who write to write daily, and to do so whether the fruit of that writing is good or bad. It will frequently be bad. I don’t have the time to write daily, or to experiment, or to even write all that I would like. But I can guarantee you that what I write will frequently be bad, but that I will press on nevertheless.

Thank you.