An Interview with Gray Charles

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manbehindthecurtain.jpg

Graphic Design: Ben Powers

Monkbot reporter extraordinaire Shelley Powers recently had the opportunity to e-interview Gray Charles, creator of http://www.graycharles.com/, the official unofficial weblog for Season 5 American Idol Taylor Hicks. Here’s how it all went down…

Shelley:
Wow, an interview with the great Gray Charles. Score one for the Monkbot Division.

Gray, I gotta first say how thrilled we are at Monkbot Talk to have you do this interview…and to share your thoughts in the comment section so often. But let’s clear something up before we go any further…it’s been discussed on other sites that ours is a love/hate relationship. That’s just not true. Be honest (we’re all about honesty here)…don’t you think the heart’s metallurgy between you and I personally leans more toward the hate end?

Gray Charles:
Shelley, you know I love you, and as The Beatles said – “The Love You Give Is Equal To The Love You Fake.”

Shelley:
Uh…thanks…I guess.

You’ve admitted to suffering from “Pop Culture Tourettes”…and anyone who’s spent time at your site knows that you’re more than just a simple music geek…you really are more of an aficionado. Tell us a little about your personal music collection. What was the first album you remember wanting and getting then playing ad nauseam? What calls to you now? And do you categorize your albums autobiographically?

Gray Charles:
I remember really, really wanting the Bad Company album “Run With The Pack” when I was a kid. Maybe it was just because of the bright and shiny silver cover; they say that rodents are attracted to aluminum foil after all. At exactly the same time, and through some fluke that I can’t recall, I obtained a copy of Elvis Costello’s “My Aim Is True.” How exactly such a groundbreaking album came into the hands of an impressionable boy from a hick town in the midwest is a mystery, but I think it accounts for a good deal of my music schizophrenia over the years. I played that album to death and just was blown away by the lyrics – not always the meaning of the lyrics but the sound of the words tumbling out of Elvis’s mouth. He also seemed to be a bit, shall we say, disenchanted with something. I connected with the emotion of it all but not really the root cause.

In the meantime I listened to Led Zeppelin, run-of-the-mill heavy metal, and descended into the disillusioned Bruce Springsteen years of “Darkness On The Edge Of Town.” (Am I dating myself?)

I could name hundreds of songs/albums that “called to me” over the years, but I’ll stick with one or two more examples. When REM released “Murmur,” I put on the headphones and listened for weeks at a time trying to decipher the lyrics and meanings. “Murmur” was a topic of conversation with my friends that lasted for so long that it got to be ludicrous. Eventually, I fell sway to the sound of the words rather than their exact meaning. A way of thinking that remains.

A few more to mention – Tom Waits, “Rain Dogs;” Van Morrison, “MoonDance;” Bob Dylan, “Blood on the Tracks.” Sure, many of these are autobiographical. Once every two or three months I’ll make a CD of the things I have been listening to just to remind me of where my life is at that point.

These days I listen to absolutely everything. I still love a well-structured pop song, regardless of how the performer is. Bright Eyes, “Road To Joy;” The Decemberists, “16 Military Wives;” and, of course, Gnarles Barkley doing “Crazy” are some of my faves from the last year.

Shelley:
Okay, we’ve established that you know everything about music…and that your appreciation for great music runs deep. So now the glaring question is…what the hell were you doing watching American Idol? No, seriously, we know the story…you were “flipping channels” and Taylor’s audition drew you in. But you still had to be compelled on some visceral level to give so much of yourself to create and maintain GrayCharles.com. What is it about this artist…who is in some ways pretty far removed from the typical “Artists with Soul” you feature…that connects with you?

Gray Charles:
That’s simple, I like passion and I like performance. Is Taylor pretty removed from the “Artists With Soul” folks? Maybe on some level, but on a deeper “these people are good and you should know about them” level I’d say Taylor fits in perfectly.

Shelley:
But you never started a blog for other artists…why at this time…with this artist?

Gray Charles:
Good timing and a long commute. I drive almost an hour to work – mostly through the hills. For years I’ve been thinking that I should try and work at home but I’ve never come up with a way to do it. In the last few years I’d been hearing more and more about Google Ads and how it was finally possible to make money on a blog if only you could generate enough traffic.

One day I’m driving to work and I’m thinking I’d like to try this theory out, but I didn’t have a subject. That evening we turn on the TV (which, in fact, we rarely do) and the AI auditions were on. I was already aware of the show’s popularity – then Taylor came on and auditioned and all the synapses fired at once. Blog/American Idol/Taylor. Mostly because I liked Taylor. If I looked back on any previous season (which, truth be told, I never watched), I couldn’t picture myself devoting that much time and effort to anyone else, but something about Taylor just sort of clicked for me – like I’m sure it did for everyone else.

Shelley:
For as long as I can remember, you’ve had a page on your site that featured Taylor’s bio…taken from his old site using the “wayback machine.” Plus you’ve always seemed to be more “in the know” than other sites out there (including having those live recordings from the December before Season 5 AI aired). At what point between hearing Taylor’s audition and today did you begin working to align yourself with Taylor’s people? Was this part of your original plan with the site?

Gray Charles:
Who are “Taylor’s people” exactly? I hear that phrase all the time.

In no way did my original “plan” include anything like where I am today. My only plan once the thing got going was to do the best job I possibly could. It takes a lot of time to make that happen but I knew what was needed.

Post show I had been sending Taylor regular e-mails that kept him in touch with what his online base was talking about. It wasn’t until late August that I made any sort of formal proposal to Taylor.

Shelley:
The Man of Mystery angle…did you start out wanting to keep yourself a mystery or did that just evolve as an online persona? Do those in your “real world” (work, friends, family) know of your alter-ego? Do they appreciate it…in other words, does Mrs. Gray Charles still make you take out the trash?

Gray Charles:
I knew I wanted to have an online persona for lots of reasons. I did want to protect my identity for many reasons, the biggest being simple privacy. Having a persona is also somewhat of an easy out – “Gray Charles” might say a few things in particular ways that I never would. I’m certainly in there and I’m so intertwined with Gray that it would be very difficult to set them apart.

The other trigger for me was the success of another online persona called “Plain Layne.” For over a year “Plain Layne” detailed her personal life from relationships to office politics in a way that was totally engaging and voyeuristic. Fascinating stuff really. While I didn’t want to fictionalize things, I understood the power that a “Personality” could bring to something like this.

Plus, people are crazy – I mean they want you to do interviews via e-mail? Is that a world you feel safe in?

Shelley:
Um…okay…I think I’ll let that one slide.

Obviously you do have a life away from the computer screen. How do you pace yourself…lots of planning or just posting when you must?

Gray Charles:
During the AI show it was both, which is what made it so exhausting. I had to post pre-show, post-show, spoilers, videos, etc. It was part of the job. I also had to stay on top of breaking news and be the first one out there all the time. In addition, I needed to check all the other Taylor sites to see if anyone else was onto something I wasn’t.

It’s a little more relaxed now that the show isn’t airing.

Shelley:
Your site (though lacking some of the grace and elegance of Monkbot Talk) has had a massive appeal. To what do you attribute the popularity of the site (you know, beyond your personal charms, or course)? And at what point did you say “holy shit…what have I created?”

Gray Charles:
Popularity? I think I worked my ass off to provide something that people wanted. I treated Taylor and the show as something both simply entertaining as well as intellectually interesting from a consumer marketing, demographic, and musical standpoint. I think the combination of music and intellect made it work. Look, the website demographics matched the show’s demographics which matched Taylor’s demographics. It wasn’t an accident that it all came together.

I think I said “holy shit” when the site had 2,000 people one day. Little did I know that I would eventually come to see that as a “bad day.”

Shelley:
If it wasn’t an accident, then can I assume you were targeting the same demographics as the show and Taylor? That surprises me.

Gray Charles:
Targeting? No, but it would also be wrong to assume that I didn’t know what the match up was. What I’m saying is that, just like Taylor, I know what a performance is – I know how to write and post to keep people interested. I’ve got a pretty deep marketing background myself.

Shelley:
What, if anything, would you have done differently?

Gray Charles:
Hard to say. It would have been nice to see into the future and ramp the hardware up slightly before demand. On the other hand, machines cost money – I floated much of that myself so it was hard to swallow. Otherwise, I think it went pretty well don’t you?

Oh, and those interns. I wish they weren’t fictional.

Shelley:
It did…does…work well.

It seems (at least to many of the long-timers at your site) that your readership has undergone an evolutionary process that began during the show and continues now as you find your fit with Taylor’s “official” site. What are you thoughts on these changes?

Gray Charles:
That’s a complicated one. During the show the site had a very week-to-week focus that everyone understood. Now that there isn’t a “schedule” to adhere to it’s a bit different. I still think I’m doing the same things – I don’t really want to compromise what I’ve been up to – I’m just adding the inside info and marketing stuff to the mix. Not a bad tradeoff.

Shelley:
Let me back up and ask that question a different way. The readership of your site has changed…so, have your expectations of your readership changed? What do you look for from a “participant” of your site? Or do you put your work out there without expectations?

Gray Charles:
My expectations for readers haven’t changed. I would rather people “think” about what they are writing, or at least invest some sort of process and add something to the mix. Look, I put a lot of work into this and, while I’m glad that it’s entertaining, I think what makes it great is what other folks contribute. How much less of a website/experience would it be without comments? If that’s the model, doesn’t it make sense to hope for the best comments possible?

Now, I know that sounds intimidating but I don’t mean it to be. I just love when people bring something of themselves to the table – whatever it is. Sorry but “Taylor is so handsome” isn’t bringing much of yourself to the table, regardless of how true it might be. Now, some posts clearly don’t rise to the level of deserving much input. The recent interview with Taylor was one example where “Groovy” seems to be a perfectly acceptable response. Other posts call out for more.

Shelley:
What do you see as your responsibility toward your readers now, as opposed to when you began? And do you see your site as enlightening or entertaining…or both?

Gray Charles:
My responsibility is to entertain and inform. It has become a bit easier to inform since I have people sending me things now . . . you know, cool pictures and stuff. As to the entertainment aspect – I’m always worried that it isn’t happening. Sure, my mind works in weird ways and I know that I risk alienating people who don’t get my sense of humor or who don’t make the pop culture connections that I do (witness the Winona Ryder debacle which I thought was pretty transparent, seems like no one understood that I was just riffing). Still, that’s what makes it fun for me. If my site had to be…

News Flash One: Here is a picture of Taylor
News Flash Two: Taylor is playing show A at location B

…my head would explode. I don’t see the entertainment value there – it surely wouldn’t be any fun for me.

Shelley:
As I see it, a blog, ultimately, is a forum for its author to express his or herself. How much about your site is still about you…or have you had to put some of that aside for the bigger picture?

Gray Charles:
See above. I’ve added some stuff but it still needs to have me in there. I may have to watch out for copyright infringement or some other legalistic things but otherwise I need to just keep making it do what it do.

Shelley:
How do you keep your sanity when you’ve read for the 2,057th time “Gray, you’re better than hot fudge on a sundae” or “I love how the front top-stitching on the back left pocket of the jeans Taylor is wearing in the 11th photo down makes his hair look more gray”?

Gray Charles:
Comes with the territory, I suppose. I really don’t need to hear the “thank you, Gray” stuff anymore and I’ve said so on the blog. I try not to judge what other folks are interested in though. Who am I to say that a discussion of clothes is a bad thing? On the other hand, I strongly discourage sexual objectification and have since day one. Of course, I’m not perfect. I have been known to fail from time to time.

Shelley:
And how do you handle the criticism you receive on your site (and others…shuffles feet and gives sheepish grin) about your “condescending” attitude at times or your “wrist slaps”? Has the “fame” gone to your head?

Gray Charles:
Sometimes the criticism stings. I care way too deeply about it and probably should let it go more than I do. I think the “wrist slaps” are wholly necessary from time to time to keep people on track. I have no problem dishing them out – I think the site is much much better for it.

As to condescension? I’ve heard that criticism, but for me it doesn’t hold water. I write about what I write about – if a reader doesn’t “get it” it doesn’t say much about either me or them. We just don’t connect. I’m interested in connecting, but I can’t assume to connect with everyone at every time – just won’t happen. That said, I don’t want to reach for the lowest common denominator – if I mention an obscure artist maybe someone will love them.

Why talk about Norah Jones? Everyone knows who Norah Jones is by now – I want to bring something new to the table.

Shelley:
Now that the business deal with Taylor is being ironed out…can you share any details about GrayCharles.com’s long-term role in Taylor’s marketing and/or taylorhicks.com?

Gray Charles:
Nope – seriously, nothing is worked out yet other than the phrase “yes, we want to work this out.” I’ve been given some access to information and I’m helping to make Taylor’s CD launch a success where I can. Once there is a real “agreement,” I’ll make sure everyone knows so that there is no confusion about conflicts of interest or anything. As of right now, it’s all me.

I can say that the idea of Taylor recording the “Hey, give me your e-mail address” thing was mine. What I do want to say is that I’m not responsible for the structure or design of the future taylorhicks.com website. Not that I want to distance myself from it – I just want to say that it’s not in my hands. I’m continuing to do what I’ve always done, only with a bit more “legitimacy.” Taylor has a team of people trying to make his career, both online and offline, a success – I’m just one of those people.

Shelley:
I think you just answered your own question from above about who Taylor’s people are. How does it feel to be one of those people? A huge responsibility? A huge pain in the ass? Or ridiculously cool?

Gray Charles:
Um, freaky and weird? Weirdly freaky? I don’t know what to really say. It was such an organic thing that, at this point, it seems to make sense. Whenever I run into an old friend who I haven’t seen in awhile and recite the story – I’m back to the weirdness though.

Shelley:
Finally—Taylor and the business deal notwithstanding—what does the future hold for GrayCharles.com…or at least for the beloved/bemoaned blogger behind GrayCharles.com?

Gray Charles:
Bemoaned? Really, bemoaned? How about “tolerated.” I like that word better.

Shelley:
Okay…”tolerated.”

Rolls eyes at having to tolerate Gray.

So, what does the future hold for you?

Gray Charles:
The future is malleable, I’d rather not predict. I may give you a different answer tomorrow than today so let’s just hold on for the ride.

Thanks everyone for stopping by – I hope you’re enjoying it.

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122 Responses to “An Interview with Gray Charles”

  1. Squeebee Says:

    Thanks Shelley, and Gray, for this insight into our fearless leader.

  2. double d Says:

    Shelley, bravo! Great interview. Loved it…even the “wrist slap” (on me) re: Norah Jones…

    We’ll all continue to enjoy whatever the old wizard had to give us even though we bitch and complain…thanks for making such a great place to visit, learn, and laugh — both of you.

  3. Mind Doc Says:

    Wowzers! Nifty! Great job to both of you. Brava!

    It seemed that both of you had a good time. I am very glad to see this, very enjoyable.

  4. DaniCalifornia Says:

    I love the match of wits and words. Makes it interesting. You know, I’m almost afraid of the day where we DON’T go to Gray for the newest and latest news. There’s no one we’ll be able to blame and groan at when that day comes! Kidding of course. I think the good thing about Graycharles.com is that it’s personal. The whole vibe of the site is personal, and makes the reader feel that they’re a part of this “monster” that Taylor created (as he put it once). And that we have a friend who’s in the know and who is eager to tell us and wants to know what we think. Gray, the fact that you read every comment really means a lot. That must take A LOT of time, and must be really draining.

    Perhaps maybe this is the reason why other “Idols” haven’t made it as far…they have impersonal websites with big music business people backing them up, and no face…err…persona to go along and make it more friendly and personable. (OF course I’m not saying that’s the #1 factor, but perhaps could be added into the equation for some.)

  5. katja Says:

    Very witty! Loved it!
    (I’m not bringing much new to the table with this comment 🙂 )
    But honestly I love the way your and Gray’s minds work. Love the wit, snark and intelligence. Wooo.
    Thanks.

  6. Claire Says:

    Well done, oh fearless MonkBot leader! For venturing behind the curtain you get the Prize of the Day!!
    (oh wait, I haven’t figured out how to Hotlink yet….um, just think of a cool picture of Dorothy and Toto..)

    And well done Gray for answering just the way I thought you would….true-to-yourself-ly, and to-the-point-ly.(did that make sense?)

  7. catwood720 Says:

    Great job Shelley, thank you for taking the time to interview Gray, and thanks to Gray for taking the time also!

    While I have watched past seasons of AI and I know that I would have felt the same way that I do about Taylor regardless, GrayCharles.com made a HUGE difference in my overall enjoyment of this season and in the fact that I am continuing to be able to follow this young man’s career so easily. It just wouldn’t be the same without Gray, and I am hoping that he continues to get to work with Taylor as he deserves.

    Love what you are doing here as well Shelley! 🙂

  8. French Hick Says:

    Despite being a long time lurker at GC, I learned something new with this interview. Several somethings actually. Quite the enjoyable read … and now it appears I have even more reading to do. Shelley, just your post titles on the left over there look intriguing! I will definitely check them out … so much for getting anything done at work today! Hah!

    And I never realized you were from Mississippi …. Rebels or Bulldogs?

    Oh, and just as GC’s “Grooves” post yesterday made me and the DH break out the Booker T last night, I have a feeling I’ll be listening to Elvis Costello tonight!

    My thanks to both of you!

  9. French Hick Says:

    ha ha … too early for me. Your post titles on the right, Shelley … *blush*

    Staggers off to find my morning tea.

  10. Anonymous Says:

    Shelly -Thanks much for this.
    Nice interview
    an
    is this sentence intentional?
    it comes after the Plain Layne comments
    “Shelley:
    Um…okay…I think I’ll that one slide.”

    serious:cause sometimes I read sidewrangler and this one made sense to me.
    it is not supposed to.
    My first time here
    an are you playing with my head?
    lol

  11. shelley Says:

    Glad to see the new faces here…and thanks for the comments.

    Catwood720, French Hick…hope y’all come back.

    Oh, and French Hick…definitely a Bulldog…cut me…and I bleed maroon. 😉

  12. Shrewspeaks Says:

    Shelley! Dynamite interview! A wonderful blend of fact gathering and entertainment. Bigger than a bread box…not so sure 😉

    Gray…some of us got Winona. But then some of us are Asses. Gray I was sucked into this vortex of an online community first by Taylor, but it was your hip snappy blend of music + intellegence that kept me coming back (not really I am all about the giggling, but hey I have kept the charade up so far) and these crazy whacky MonkBots (even before we were in the words of Les Nesman “organized”) that have let this little internet neophite bloom…well that and levaquin.

    This message brought to by OrthoMcNeil

  13. double d Says:

    Anonymous said…
    an are you playing with my head?

    heh.

  14. Soulkaren Says:

    Shelley,
    This is my first post here~ found you due to bamaborntexasbred – but I’ve just been a lurker until now…

    But had to come by to say, Bravo! for an extremely interesting interview with Gray! I learned more about him than all the previous months combined, and that INCLUDES meeting him in August at WorkPlay. (I believe I met you as well!)

    There’s just so much meat in this, and I’m sure it will take more than a couple of re-readings to snag it all.

    I must say, I also especially enjoyed your post yesterday about your Sunday drive. My thought as I read it was, ‘what a cool person to be so happy in her own skin and so content’. That’s true!

    Thanks for all the work you do. And thanks for this great peek behind the curtain!

  15. shelley Says:

    SoulKaren,

    So glad you dropped in and commented! 😉

    Um…happy in my own skin and content? Hmmmm…I’d like to thank the academy.

    LOL

  16. double d Says:

    “Have I told you lately that I love you?…”

    Ah, Harmony…..can you hear it?

  17. Victoriainiowa Says:

    Love, love, love the interview…and I know I don’t bring much to the table besides my middle aged Iowa opinions, but those are worth something in Presidential elections, so why not here? ANYWAY, will SOMEONE please explain Winona to me?

  18. EJ Says:

    Sheesh, now I have yet ANOTHER classy website to check each day (as if Gray’s and Ash’s blog weren’t enough)…

  19. shelley Says:

    Victoria…EJ…glad you’re here and I thank you for posting.

    Classy? That’s a first…but I’ll take it.

    Victoria…the Winona thing…

    Gray thinks she’s purty…it’s really that simple.

  20. katja Says:

    Off topic but I have to say this. And EJ did say this was a classy site so this goes in the same category I think.
    I love the graphic design of this site. I love the deep tone of the red…the pictures are marvellous…and that monkbot-logo is just…great! Excellent.

  21. shelley Says:

    okay…almost that simple.

    thanks for clarifying.

  22. bamaborntxbred Says:

    Yay! SoulKaren showed up! Girl, why’ve you been hiding out? I know you can comment! You need to show your face around here more often!

    Gray- My favorite part of the interview was your explanation of the “way the blog was born”…with the convergence of the drive to work, your desire to work from home, the flipping through the channels, Taylor’s auditon, etc. Cool.

    It’s weird…it’s kinda like what happened with Taylor…You both have talent, you both work hard…it was just a matter of the right time and place to make the magic happen. Ah, the stuff of legends…

    Shelley- Gray doesn’t want us to thank him and “fluff” him up anymore…but you didn’t tell us we couldn’t do that for you so: I just appreciate you and your dedication to our little Monkbot universe so much. You are such a talented writer and beyond that…you have are a gifted story-teller. That is such a lost art.

    I know (probably only a portion) about the worrying that you expend over this blog. You want everyone to be entertained, you don’t want anyone to feel alienated, you want it to be a place where people can speak their minds w/o fear of backlash. You fret over all the little decisions…and you know what? Because of that, you have created a wonderful blog, that has grown into a little family. The way we felt/feel at Gray’s is how many of us feel here at Monkbot now.

    Shelley & Gray- This interview was great b/c it wasn’t run-of-the-mill. It was fun and gave us a fresh perspective on our Uncle Monkbot.

  23. robin4t Says:

    Well EJ’s right, of course–it is a classy hangout, Shelley. Great job with the interview. Particularly liked the questions that required Gray to be a bit introspective. Oh, and Gray’s expectations of his readers vis-a-vis his view of his own responsibilities–good stuff.

    But then, who better to give us a peak at the man behind the curtain than she who has matched him snark for snark over these many months? (and don’t tell me YOU were ever intimidated, cause I ain’t buying that….)

    Loved it!

  24. claire Says:

    Bama – Uncle Monkbot?

    heh.

    I am now confronted with mental images of Uncle Buck vs. King Kong. vs. the robot from “Intergalactic” by the Beastie Boys.

    slice of stream-of-consciousness pie, anyone??….

  25. bamaborntxbred Says:

    Awww…John Candy…sad. 😦

    Yeah. I thought Gray needed a special place in the Monkbot family…and since The Supreme Monkbot was already taken by Taylor…Uncle Monkbot seemed fitting…

  26. shelley Says:

    robin4t…um…believe it or not…he did (kinda sorta still does) intimidate me from time to time. i HATE admitting this…but i got a LOT of respect for the guy…plus i think he’s pretty dang smart…which always makes my knees quake a little. 😉

    Official Prize of the Day goes to

    Bama for bringing us a new phrase…Uncle Monkbot

    And to

    Claire…for her bold move in sharing that rather disturbing (yet, strangely brilliant) stream of consciousness.

  27. claire Says:

    Saweeeet Shelley, nice pic.

    And I can say that without objectifying Taylor sexually or THUDD-ing. *insert winking smiley face here*

    Bama – yeah, John Candy, RIP. I loved Planes, Trains and Automobiles. So funny and yet so poignant at the end. He played that role well.

  28. bamaborntxbred Says:

    Thanks for the Prize Shelley! (I really think I won b/c I said a lot of nice things about you…but we can keep that between us…)

    I think it’s interesting what robin4t said about you not being intimidated by Gray, and what SoulKaren said about you being happy and content in your skin. This weird wide web gives us all a chance to develop “personas”. We can all be a little snarkier, more intelligent, and self-confident.

    Do you know how many times I’ve googled something for info before I posted at Gray’s (back in the day) so I wouldn’t look like an idiot? See, in real life, I’m just an idiot. And, I’m not that funny…or self-confident. I am, however, much prettier in person than I am in print. 😉

    My point is: We can’t ever really know each other until we meet face to face, or talk ear to ear…because this is just too protective an environment. I know, because not one of you could actually reach me, to slap me, when I went on my JT rant.

    Love, peace, bananas and kittens to all!

  29. Shrewspeaks Says:

    Interesting point Bama…I feel less inhibited through this enviornment too, but more free to be the complete opinionated dumb ass that takes years for me to let those I meet face to face to see.

    And an interesting thing happened to me on the way home from the blog…I have started to be more free with my face to face self…in fact I was at a party Saturday night…and instead of keeping my thoughts to myself…I let the assy comments fly…and I must say…people like it and I had a MUCH better time. Yes, Gray and Shelley..thank you for letting me be the ass I really am.

    Seriously, I am less intimidated in ‘real’ world activities because of this experience. Thanks to all of you for that.

  30. jenniesaunt Says:

    Shelley,
    When I first read today’s post, I thought that you had made it all up! Really, I read it the first time thinking, “This young lady from Miss is one clever writer. She is following in the footsteps of Eudora Welty!”

    OK now I see that it is legit. But, I still admire your writing abilities and must now add interview skills. Your site is one of my favorites and visit as often as possible.
    BTW Sadie is the best. Her eyes are special. Something about them remind me of Seabiscuit’s eyes.

  31. shelley Says:

    Bama…not only have I Googled stuff before posting at Gray’s…I looked up stuff in the dictionary and other reference materials! And then I obsessed over what I wrote…hoping it was correct and brilliant.

    You’re right about the persona thing. I have to say, though, it’s funny that you would say that we can be more intelligent in print. It’s true though. I feel so much smarter as a writer than I do as a real-live person.

    And Shrew…you are sooooo right about how the persona can HELP you in the real world.

    I’ve learned (through arguements about JT and discussions about chin waxing) that I am much braver than I gave myself credit for. And I have taken more risks in how I present myself because of it.

    It’s been very freeing.

    Even if I offend everyone I meet…at least I’m happier. LOL

  32. shelley Says:

    Awww…Jenniesaunt…if I tell you it’s all made up…can you go back to telling me that I’m like Eudora?

    😉

    Seriously, thanks. That was very kind.

  33. heyhowyadoin Says:

    from one who has been “wristslapped”, good job on the interview…BOTH of you…

    oh and gray, i’ll be seeing The Decemberists on Nov. 1st….

  34. bamaborntxbred Says:

    I do feel more “complete” as an online person. More like I really truly am. What happens out here in the “real world” is that my self-conciousness gets in the way and I lose confidence in myself. That, and I can’t revise something that’s already been said. (Like looking directly at the hot guy nearby and saying, out loud, “he’s hot” without realizing it.)

  35. shelley Says:

    is jellis of heyhowyadoin going to see the decemberists

    i LOVE “cautionary tale”

    so be kind to your mother…though she may seem an awful bother…and the next time she tries to feed you collard greens…remember what she does when you’re asleep.

  36. heyhowyadoin Says:

    shell….they’ll be in new orleans and atlanta at the end of october……

  37. shelley Says:

    thanks. mmmm….now I’m wondering if NOLAgirl would let me crash at her house. Ha.

  38. claire Says:

    Anybody want to travel to Ireland to see Ray LaMontagne play in Jan ’07?

    I have a pull-out couch for guests, Shelley…;)

  39. bamaborntxbred Says:

    I don’t know The Decemberistsistsiitsts. Should I check them out?

    Well, I know you’ll be jellis to hear that I’m going to Blue October and 30 Seconds to Mars next month. Mmm hmmm…go ahead….turn green with envy…I know you wanna.

  40. bamaborntxbred Says:

    I wanna come to Ireland! When in Jan?

  41. shelley Says:

    I’d go to Ireland to hear Britney Spears in concert.

    And nothing says welcome to Ireland like a pull out sofa! 😉

    Bama…just as you don’t know the Decemberists…I don’t know Blue October or 30-Seconds to Mars

    Maybe they should be an addendum to your these on Journey.

  42. claire Says:

    17th, Bama. In a boxing stadium, no less!!

  43. PennyW Says:

    Bravo! Very well written.

  44. Jax Says:

    Thank you Shelley for pulling the curtain back and allowing us a peek at the man behind the curtain. Excellent job.

    Thanks to Gray for allowing the peek.

    Thanks to Google … that’s how I found Gray I googled Taylor Hicks & there he was. A place to read the “real” news.

    Thanks to Taylor for seeing in Gray what we knew, a place for friends to meet & share the ride.

  45. Soulkaren Says:

    Shrewspeaks said:
    “And an interesting thing happened to me on the way home from the blog…I have started to be more free with my face to face self…in fact I was at a party Saturday night…and instead of keeping my thoughts to myself…I let the assy comments fly…and I must say…people like it and I had a MUCH better time.”

    You know, that’s been true with me too! Also, I find that I’ve picked up expressions that I’ve only begun using SINCE this blogging/message board ride began…

    Like this one: “Just sayin'”

    I have found myself saying that to my boss or kids on more than one occasion.

    I think I actually use a lot younger English than I did BT – a little more ‘hip’ if I can go that far. It’s fun, and I HAVE raised a few eyebrows.

    Speaking of eyebrows….

    Sorry, Shelley! 😉

  46. texan Says:

    Wow! Score Shelley! The Everything You Wanted to Know About Gray…. But Knew You Better Not Ask interview! Not that I fear the Man O Mystery ( hey that sports the acronym MOM didya ever notice that?)

    I have to say that this marketing yammering has burst the little happy bubble that I have lived in lo these long months. I thought the group formed by some happy ,magic karma. I mean, c’mon were all of you cool kids LOOKING for a online home? Were you shopping and picking one out? Or, maybe this is the kind of marketing that the grocery stores use that forces me to impulse buy Cheetos and microwave Betty Crocker microwave molten chocolate brownie bowls? ACK!

    There is such a collection of wonderful, cool, groovy,smart, thoughtful, dynamic and amazing people that are the GC / Monkbot readers. Marketing or magic I have had the best of times with you guys!

    Out to look up Bubble Repair Shops in the Yellow Pages! …and after that Unicorn Pet Supplies and Rainbow Launchers

  47. bamaborntxbred Says:

    Hmmm…Well, I might have to try to work them in…it would be an interesting twist, to say the least.

    You know how we all are quite rabid fans of Taylor’s…Well, Blue October’s fans are very intense. I’ve been following them for the last decade…I used to see them in local bars when there were only 50 people in attendence. Now they sell out arenas. Cool.

    30 Secs- Very theatrical shows. Crazy cool music/lyrics. Sounds great live. And Jared Leto is so cute..which, you know, is important.

    **I’m walking to Ireland if I have to.

  48. bamaborntxbred Says:

    Sorry…kinda got off track talking about my own thing for a minute there…

  49. texan Says:

    Did I just read that Shrew is “less” intimidated now? Shrew?… intimidated?

    I will neva eva beleive that about my Babylon sista!

  50. TweetiBear Says:

    Not being a music nut (I haven’t followed “new” music for 40 years), I am enjoying GC’s articles, and being introduced to music by people I’ve never heard of before (and never would have). It’s like a new door opening in my life…and at age 63, it’s a great adventure. Taylor Hicks brought me here…I’m enjoying the “other” stuff…I sometimes feel intimidated, not by GC, but my own stupidity, but I love this site, and I enjoyed this interview. Maybe I’m not quite so intimidated now? (nah)

  51. Shrewspeaks Says:

    Excuse me Tex…

  52. robin4t Says:

    “Bama…not only have I Googled stuff before posting at Gray’s…I looked up stuff in the dictionary and other reference materials! And then I obsessed over what I wrote…hoping it was correct and brilliant.”

    Now see, Bama and Shelley. I was positive I was the only one who ever did that stuff. Especially the obsessing and agonizing. Funny how we assume those we admire on the boards are as completely self-possessed, unfailingly brilliant, and bitingly funny as the personas they’ve allowed us to see.

    Actually, I’m very disillusioned right now. What a bunch of phonies…

    😉

  53. nolagirl Says:

    Good job Shelley! I liked it a lot! Thanks for doing this – you did Monkbots proud. 😉

  54. texan Says:

    awwwwwww my sista! you are the ass with brass..you are my role model!

  55. robin4t Says:

    Prime example of my own obsessing. I posted the above “bunch of phonies” comment at work, then (as I’m not a naturally given to snarkiness) obsessed all the way home that it would not be recognized as the “snark” for which it was intended. So clarifying just in case….

    Gee, I’m pathetic. Must learn to let the snark just stand there on it’s own two feet. Maybe next time.

  56. Gray's Publicist Says:

    Gray’s publicist would like to disavow any of the items in the above interview that were taken out of context. Many of the questions were written in such a way as to illicit a reponse – Gray now regrets having done so.If Gray has been exposed as someone with a personality he would like to apologize. From here on out he will remain non-descript and unopinionated and write only about facts in a factual manner.Gray wishes to create a home for everyone because he loves that Journey song “Open Arms”

  57. Shrewspeaks Says:

    and who doesn’t “ass”pire to be Steve Perry?

    Uncle MonkBot can always have a personality here!

  58. bamaborntxbred Says:

    Can I quote Gray’s Publicist in my Journey Thesis?

  59. Judy Trueblood Says:

    I love the articles and insight Gray Charles gives us on Taylor and what is going on with him. He teases with just enough information to keep ys interested and is so classy. How could you not love him. He is extremely intelligent and says things the way they are – no beating around the bush. I love honesty and forthright opinions and Gray brings so much to the table – Taylor was smart to develop the relationship with him – the two are a pair as far I am concerned. Gray, keep posting the way you have for the ones of us who truly appreciate the finer things in life and good journalism in its true state of mind.

  60. Shrewspeaks Says:

    By the way guys…Who knew that the article would be so contriversal? I didn’t see it coming did you?

  61. Shrewspeaks Says:

    Do you do lotto too?

  62. shelley Says:

    Bama…Gray’s Publicist = excellent fodder for thesis.

    stumbles back to dark corner of office and giggles with glee at the upset/controversy caused by interview with gray…

    my master plan is almost complete

  63. heyhowyadoin Says:

    bama….don’t be pissed at me…..

    i love the article….swear to God….

    you guys know i’m not a huge lover of things “fangirly”….i’ve been that way since day one…..

    it’s just weird that gray has now become a recipient of the fangirlieness…

    am i digging myself in a deeper hole here??

    ugghh…

  64. bamaborntxbred Says:

    Gray- I want in on that Lotto.

    Shrew- Could you have imagined that I would ever speak my mind about something that I felt strongly about? 🙂

    I told y’all Shelley was an evil genius…

  65. claire Says:

    Bamaborn – did you read my response to you on GC? Sorry if you misunderstood me….

    hugs?

  66. bamaborntxbred Says:

    Who are you to call me fangirly? I just like the dude and think he deserves a measure of respect on his own blog! Seriously.

    Every once in awhile I poke my head out over there to say something. If I say something “glowing” to Gray, it’s usually tongue in cheek b/c I understand that it’s ludicrous to really trip all over myself b/c of a person I’ve never met, never spoken to, never even emailed. Give me a break.

    I’m not mad at you. I’m pissed off at that chick that dropped her stupid comment off at the pool and went for martini’s with the girls.

  67. texan Says:

    This is a controversy? (smiles)(winks)(hugs all)(bubble is back!)

  68. bamaborntxbred Says:

    Claire- It’s all good. Hugs and squishy muffin bunnies to you!

  69. heyhowyadoin Says:

    see, i wasn’t talking about YOU….i’m serious….you were involved in the conversation but my comments were NOT directed at you…i know you are cool and i understand your sense of humor….

    and i think that trish girl was out of line…i even posted that…

    now give me squishy muffin bunnies too, damnit!

  70. Shrewspeaks Says:

    Well..I think there is a controversy to get me fired as I try to run a team and read all of this at the same time…

  71. shelley Says:

    THIS JUST IN: Despite reports that some people don’t give one rat’s ass about Gray Charles, the Man Behind the Curtain…it has just been learned that Monkbot Talk daily site visits have passed 800. This is a record…even for posts and pictures of Taylor Hicks…who, at most, brought just over 200 people to the site in one day.

    WE NOW RETURN YOU TO YOUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED BLOG.

  72. bamaborntxbred Says:

    Okay, okay. I better take some squishy muffin bunnies for myself while I’m at it.

    Heck: Squishy muffin bunnies for everybody!! (Unless your name is Trish)

  73. heyhowyadoin Says:

    wow….congrats shell!

    see what a little controversy does for traffic???

    **bama…where are my bunnies?!?

  74. heyhowyadoin Says:

    ahhh…thank you bama :>)

  75. bamaborntxbred Says:

    You’re welcome heyhowyadoin :)!

    Congratulations Shelley! Break open the champagne!

  76. Shrewspeaks Says:

    Amazing what a little re-direct can do, followed by stellar content and a fabulous blogger persona!

    happy levaquin dance.

  77. Shrewspeaks Says:

    PS- Shelley, just noticed the natty photoshop work you did on the image…nice

  78. shelley Says:

    Actually, I called Ben last night in desperation for a graphic…I had flipped up the edge of the page for the “lifting of the curtain” but Ben did all the rest…in like 5 minutes. He’s a boy genius.

    thanks…i’ll pass along that you got a kick out of it.

  79. texan Says:

    800 back and springs for ya Shelley.I’m dizzy! (no snide remarks people LOL)

  80. bamaborntxbred Says:

    I like da purty picture too!

    Where did everyone go? Back to work?

    Or did I scare everyone? Sorry y’all…Hangs head in shame…

  81. shelley Says:

    Bama…I’ve been wondering that myself.

    Is it back to just the two of us.

    Ahhh…the old days…let’s talk about helicopter’s and Wonder Woman cuffs and urinals.

  82. bamaborntxbred Says:

    Cool!

    So, the other day, I was using the urinal in my Monkbotcopter and I dropped my Wonder Woman cuff in the terlet! Grody to the max!

  83. shelley Says:

    So…is all well on the Bama front now?

  84. bamaborntxbred Says:

    Ummm..yeah. Didn’t you get my last email that splained the whole hairy mess?

  85. Gray Charles Says:

    Winona chain of thought

    1) Taylor inserts “Shake Senora” into his version of “Hold Onto Your Love”
    2) Gray remembers that they used “Shake Senora” in the movie BeetleJuice
    3) Gray goes to YouTube and finds a clip of that scene
    4) Winona Ryder is in the movie BeetleJuice
    5) Pop Culture Tourette’s fires
    6) Gray writes about Winona, remembers the “Free Winona T-Shirt”
    7) Gray loves the movies “Heathers”, and “Reality Bites” doesn’t like the movie “How To Make An American Quilt”
    8 ) Winona is in all those movies
    9) Winona is purty

  86. shelley Says:

    I did…I was just airing out the laundry in public.

    opens window to blog and let’s craziness of the day float out on a breeze.

    Seriously…I thought that some of the questions would stir up a little fuss…but not the whole hornet’s nest that it did. This is why I created this site. I don’t see how Gray deals with the mood swings of GC.com.

  87. Gray Charles Says:

    It’s a picture of Zoloft, sorry if that isn’t clear.

  88. shelley Says:

    Ha.

    Nice.

  89. nolagirl Says:

    So, on mine and Bama’s morning radio show, they do a bit called “Does that Make me Crazy?” (and yes, you guessed it – they the Gnarls Barkely clip excessively during it). People call in with their weird quirks, compulsions and idiosynchrasies, and the morning show crew decides if they are crazy or not.

    Well, this morning, I kid you not, a woman called in today and said that she prefers to stand to pee or use a urinal.

    Yes, she is crazy. (and maybe a closet MonkBot?)

    😉

  90. shelley Says:

    She stands to pee?

    I have so many questions.

    So. Many. Questions.

  91. nolagirl Says:

    Yeah, so did the morning show peeps along with everyone in their cars at the time. I mean, who DOES that??

  92. shelley Says:

    besides people with a “spigot”?

    no one.

    seriously…that is bizarre beyond belief.

    now i’ll be thinking about “transamerica” the rest of the day.

  93. Phile Says:

    Thank you, Shelly (and Gray too).

    Seriously.

    That was a interesting interview to read.

    My only concern is that any future use of the words “thank” and “you” together will be construed as either sarcasm or sucking up.

    I suppose there’s just something about acknowledging one’s appreciation in “public” and not just being another hit on the web counter that makes one feel a bit more involved, and not just an observer. It’s not always just a warm fuzzy, but feedback.

    Not that it really matters. I’m just sayin’…

    Pondering on things like this is a pain in the ass. But it’s also fun.

    So, sincere thanks.

  94. Phile Says:

    P.S. How the hell does a chick pee standing up? I think I’m jealous now.

  95. shelley Says:

    Thanks, Phile.

    To be honest…I don’t think a sincere thank you wrapped in an observation or insight about a post will be misconstrued.

    and you can pee standing up, too…just be ready for the “fall out”

    ooohhh…even i cringed at that one.

    sorry, folks.

  96. bamaborntxbred Says:

    I go away for a little while and look what the blog has digressed in to…

    I heard that call this morning…Gross!

  97. nolagirl Says:

    Yeah, I agree Shelley. If I comment at Gray’s, I always throw a “thanks for this Gray” in there too. I feel rude NOT saying it. Guess it’s the Southern belle in me …

  98. Shrewspeaks Says:

    Bama you most certainly did not scare me…Shrews don’t scare that easily…ummm, hello work…had a meeting…which I now need some of that purty zoloft. Peeing standing up? What the…Oh my.

  99. bamaborntxbred Says:

    Good. Me no likey to scare da little Monkbots!

  100. shelley Says:

    how in the hell am i going to top today’s post tomorrow?

  101. bamaborntxbred Says:

    You could interview yourself!

  102. shelley Says:

    while peeing standing up?

  103. bamaborntxbred Says:

    Oooh. You could do that? You’re talented!

  104. nolagirl Says:

    You could post an expose on “Bama: The True MonkBot Story.”

  105. nolagirl Says:

    Oh, and this just in.. hold onto your panties, Bama, JT will be in YOUR town March 5 (with Pink too). It appears he’ll hit N.O. March 1, and I *unfortunately* won’t be able to make it (damn!).

    http://perezhilton.com/topics/justin_timberlake/justinpink_20061017.php

  106. Squeebee Says:

    Wow….I go to work and run some errands, and all hell breaks loose! So…..I retract my thank-you to Gray in the first post up there and give it to Shelley. Ya snooze, ya lose, Gray!

    Ok the whole peeing standing up thing….ewwww. I can understand “squatting” as most of us do in public restrooms…but using a urinal? That’s just weird.

  107. YoursSoully/Jean Says:

    You guys are too d@mn funny! Both you (Shelley) and Gray. Interesting, enjoyable and witty interview.

    I’ve been popping in to read for a bit off and on – it’s quickly becoming a daily habit –

    Question: number of “daily site visits” = number of discrete IP addresses OR total number of hits, regardless of origin –

    Inquiring non-blogger minds want to know : )

  108. Gray Charles Says:

    shrews,

    i totally saw it coming.

  109. Anonymous Says:

    Well now we know the “rest of the story” Thanks for the interview, very enlightening… and Groovy.

  110. shelley Says:

    Jean…it’s the number of unique visits…and at last count…it was 1,011!—Um…to the anonymous person right above this comment…I’m going to call you “Taylor”. 😉 Ha.

  111. double d Says:

    Dammit! I miss all the fun again. Hey Shelley….tin foil hat is securely affixed but Anonymous and Groovy? Could it be????

    As for the “controversy”…screw ’em.
    There was absolutely NOTHING to warrant any criticism in that interview. And don’t be using the drapes like that.

    Lastly, standing up to pee? Hmmm. That’s got to be messy.

  112. Jan Says:

    Shelley and Gray: Thank you so much for this great interview. When I think back on the time from my first introduction to GrayCharles to the present, I am amazed at how much my life has changed in such a short time. People that I met on the blog have become some of my closest personal friends. I’ve been introduced to many new artists and ideas. My priorities in life have changed and that metamorphosis continues. I know where I’m going but I have no idea on how I’m going to get there. That’s a feeling that is new to me. At least I know that I have a huge network of GC Alumni that I can depend on to help me along.

    I really appreciate getting to know more about the person behind the blog.

  113. Gray Charles Says:

    Why, that’s easy Shelley

    One Pill Makes You Smaller

  114. DDDinah Says:

    Limited as I am, this has been delicious evening reading tho I’ve never been much for blogs.

    TH ignited an –ahem– “interest” and I want it noted that there is a substantial “mature” market lurking here.

    I was one of the teeners at the W. Memphis Plantation Inn when Duck Dunn and Steve Cropper were the house-boys. This is the first musical interest since then that I’ve found really really exciting.

    Thanks GC and all.

  115. Ellencorndogdorkinator Says:

    Hey Shelley, Gray, all self-professed Monk-Bots–check it out! Ellen Dorkinator Commentary I feel so much better now. Hey, a dork’s gotta do what a dork’s gotta do! Wooo!

  116. Mind Doc Says:

    Awright, that (up there — 9_9) was just plain creepy. I loves me some simians, but talking ones are just wrong on many levels. Yikes. Feel free to never send me monkey mail.

  117. shelley Says:

    Ellen…that was the funniest damn thing EVAH!!!Thanks. 😉

  118. Quossum Says:

    It *is* possible for a girl to pee standing up; just google it to find a set of instructions.

    As always, I’m late to the party, but Gray, Shelley: Good work and interesting to get some new insights. Keep up the good work, both of you!

    –Q

  119. double d Says:

    Ellen – That was too damn funny.

    Shelley – you GOT to find a way to link that to your site…

  120. bamaborntxbred Says:

    I LOVED the monk-email! That was awesome!

  121. ivoryhut Says:

    Cool interview. I thought I was the only one who sometimes connects more with the sound of words rather than their intended meaning. I figured it was either because I’m bilingual, or because I started singing at such a young age that I commited syllables to memory instead of entire words, let along verses.

    One other note: Am I the only one who thinks I just might be smarter in person rather than online? I think somewhere inside me hides a few extra IQ points I’ve yet to discover.

    Now I have yet another blog to read during my non-existent free time. Thanks, Shelley. 🙂

  122. Omphalos Says:

    Shelley, you’ve got it going on! Best damn Gray Charles interview in town. I giggled my fool head off. Hats (heads?) off to both of you.

    Someone refresh my memory, what was on REM’s Murmur? Why were the lyrics worthy of baby-G’s posse of deciphering boys?

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