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Bizarre email

January 27, 2010

This email came to my editor’s inbox yesterday and struck me as really funny.

Mr Moore:

Last night I dreamt I was hired on as a columnist for your newspaper.
I can still picture the contract I signed and a staff member, who
looked amazingly similar to Gerard Butler, smiling and welcoming me to
the family. I’ve gotta tell you, it was great, until he started to
cry. Oddly enough he sounded just like my baby girl–and then I woke
up.

In my weekly column, [redacted], I share snippets of my life with my
readers. And I’d love to share those stories with your readers as
well.

Column is delivered by email once weekly, in your choice of simple
text email, Microsoft Word attachment, or txt. format.
Rights: I offer one-time non-exclusive rights.

Four sample columns enclosed (in body of email).

Thank you for your consideration. Please email or call with any
questions you may have.

Best,
[redacted]

I can only imagine I was Gerard Butler. Except the crying part wasn’t true, I swear. We should really sign her up.

Had your blood boil today?

January 26, 2010

This column was written by a guy named Paul Shirley, whom I have never heard of, but is making his rounds on the Internet for this piece of “writing.” I’m sure his purpose was to upset people like me who will turn around and get him publicity, but joke’s on him — I’m not linking it. Instead I will pick it apart, piece by piece, like the old Fire Joe Morgan guys used to do. Feel free to submit your own commentaries. Column in bold, my thoughts aren’t.

If You Rebuild It, They Will Come, by Paul Shirley

I do not know if what I’m about to write makes me a monster. I do know that it makes me a part of a miniscule minority, if Internet trends and news stories of the past weeks are any guide.

Hint: If you think there’s a possibility what you write will make you a monster, and what you write is about the greatest outpouring of generosity since 9/11, you’re a monster.

“It”, is this:

I haven’t donated a cent to the Haitian relief effort. And I probably will not.

OK, so “IT”‘s actually not that bad. Lot’s of people haven’t donated — it’s a personal choice. Prayers, helping in fundraisers, awareness — there are plenty of other ways to help.

I haven’t donated to the Haitian relief effort for the same reason that I don’t give money to homeless men on the street. Based on past experiences, I don’t think the guy with the sign that reads “Need You’re Help” is going to do anything constructive with the dollar I might give him. If I use history as my guide, I don’t think the people of Haiti will do much with my money either.

Hm? Comparing the homeless guy in America to the victims of a devastating natural disaster in the poorest country in the Western world? You’ve got some serious explaining to do here.

In this belief I am, evidently, alone. It seems that everyone has jumped on the  “Save Haiti” bandwagon. To question the impulse to donate, then, will probably be viewed as analogous with rooting for Charles Manson, John Wayne Gacy, or the Spice Girls.

Or the guy who thinks children in the third world whose parents were killed in an earthquake don’t deserve our support and calls aiding a country in ruin a “bandwagon.” You know, bad people. Read more…

Grammy Song Of The Year

January 21, 2010

Listening to:
U2 – The Joshua Tree

Ah, Grammy Award nominations are out, and we can all start our annual bickering over how crappy mainstream music has gotten in the last 10 years. Let’s take a look at this year’s nominees for Song of the Year:

Single Ladies – Beyoncé
Use Somebody – Kings Of Leon
Poker Face – Lady Gaga
Pretty Wings – Maxwell
You Belong With Me – Taylor Swift

Now, unlike almost all my friends who know anything about music, I don’t have a huge problem with this list. Historically, the award has gone to pop music, which is hard to dispute. What other type of music has a wider reach than top-40 pop? A list of winners back to 1959 can be found here.

I think “Single Ladies,” although parodied endlessly and sung ironically by a ton of people, is brilliant. There is almost no instrumentation to be heard, with the chord structure coming solely from Beyoncés vocal melody and harmonies. The rhythm of the lyrics over the rhythm of the beat is interesting and keeps you on your toes, and the music video is wonderful (The best video of ALL TIME!).

Kings of Leon is destined to become one of those bands (see: Radiohead) that was so much “cooler” before a lot of people knew who they were. Their newest album, “Only By The Night,” is the album that’s so good it can’t be ignored by basically anyone in music, but it also makes their thousands of fans from before that album say, “Yeah, but their first album was so much better.” (It wasn’t) The song “Use Somebody” has exploded as that driving adrenaline rock that we (I) just can’t get enough of. Easily the simplest of the nominees, but that makes it so good.

Lady Gaga is a complete anomaly to me. I can’t figure her out for the life of me. Every time I hear one of her songs, I nod my head and enjoy myself, and when it’s over I find the tune still bouncing around in my head for like a week. Weird, because there’s nothing about the songs that I can point out that I enjoy. At least that’s what I thought until I heard Chris Daughtry cover “Poker Face,” and I realized there is some real music hidden inside the club beat and mass of giant bubbles or whatever Lady Gaga happens to be wearing that day.

I’ll be honest — I hadn’t ever heard of Maxwell or “Pretty Wings” until I saw the nominees. Then I listened. And I loved. I’m a huge sucker for well-done R&B, and that song is probably the best of the year. There is something to be said for Mary J. Blige’s new album, but I think it will be up for nomination next year.

And now we come to Taylor Swift. Taylor. Swift. Everything in my body tells me that I don’t like this girl. She sings teen-bop music that has somehow propelled her into an obscene level of stardom. She took home all kinds of country music awards this year — even though nothing she sings has any resemblance to country. Her songs and videos are better suited for Saved By The Bell than the Grammys. But I like the girl. I don’t love her music, but I like her. She seems like she was that nerdy girl in high school who could possibly be attractive way down there somewhere but she was too caught up in singing in the Glee Club to even care. Now she’s in Hollywood and every artist with a hairbrush has gotten hold of her and made her pretty and the love of 14-year-old boys everywhere. That says nothing about her song that was nominated, but I just wanted to throw that out there.

My pick: “Single Ladies”

My prediction: “You Belong With Me”

I know I’m going to get hammered for even supporting this list in the slightest, but I’m not a music snob. I try to see value and appeal in all kinds of music. I learned that trait over the years, and I recommend trying it for a while. It makes surfing the radio WAY easier.

What would you pay for news?

January 15, 2010

Listening to:
Calexico & Iron and Wine — In The Reins

I know I’ve been writing a lot about journalism lately, but it’s been on my mind because, you know, it’s my job or whatever.

There is a fascinating case study going on right now at CNATI.com, a Web site co-founded by a journalist I’ve followed for four years or so now, C. Trent Rosecrans. He was the Cincinnati Reds beat writer for the now-defunct Cincinnati Post (RIP). He briefly got a job covering the Reds for a Cincinnati Clear Channel radio station but was laid off from there.

So he started CNATI.com as a Reds, Bengals, UC and Xavier site that competes with, mostly, the Cincinnati Enquirer. The site is extremely up and coming, but there are also extremely talented writers and photographers there. Because it is so new, it can’t afford to get left in the dust by the bigger news organizations, so Rosecrans knew he needed to go to spring training this year to give the best coverage he could possibly manage to the readers to establish CNATI.com as a serious player in Cincinnati sports coverage.

So Dec.  28, CNATI.com asked its readers — humbly, because these guys are professionals — for money to pay for Rosecrans to go to spring training in Goodyear, Ariz. No bells or whistles, it was just, “Hey, we don’t have the money to go to spring training, so will you all give it to us?”

The goal was $4,000 in six weeks. The trip could probably have been made with $3,000, but with no guarantees that Rosecrans could stay the whole time. Most newspapers spend $8,000 on their beat writers going to spring training.

Know what happened? The site has raised $4,700 in two-and-a-half weeks (I donated $50 today; you can donate here). The more money they get, the better the coverage will, as far as getting a professional photographer among other things.

What does this say about CNATI.com? If you haven’t yet, go take a look at their site. Looks good, easy to navigate, but the striking thing is how good the stories are and how interesting the voices of the writers are. It’s not always AP style, and it’s not even always clean, but it’s what I, as a fan of Cincinnati sports, want to read.

In an age where we can get all of our news for free, these guys got people to pay for it voluntarily. I could have read everything I ever wanted to know about spring training from any number of other writers, but I paid $50 to read it from Rosecrans. That, friends, is the goal of journalism. I am paying these guys to go to the story and give it to me in an unbiased manner but geared toward my interests.

What about you? What sites would you or do you pay for? What magazines and/or newspapers do you give your money to? Mine are limited: Sports Illustrated (photos are incredible; writing is upper echelon as well), Rolling Stone (the best music writers on the planet; I learn a ton about new music), and now CNATI.com. But they are the only ones, in my mind, that do it better than anyone else.

And if your local newspaper/radio station/television station isn’t trying to do it better than anyone else, there’s a problem.

Some random thoughts for a cold Monday afternoon

January 11, 2010

Listening to:
Hootie and the Blowfish – Cracked Rear View

• Do you have a different opinion on Mark McGwire than you did 24 hours ago? My opinion of him goes up after his admission that he used steroids during his record-breaking ’98 season. I’m not even upset. That year and that home run race restored the fan base’s faith in baseball after the strike, and frankly, I don’t even care how it happened. I’m just glad he came clean about it instead of thinking that anyone believed that he didn’t touch the stuff. It’s going to take pretty much every major star who used steroids in the ’90s and ’00s (those are over — weird) to admit it for us to be able to get past it all and close the door on the “steroid era.” Only then can the record books be amended and America’s Pastime to retake its rightful place.

• I hate snow. I hate it less now that I have a garage, but, still hate it. As I write this, the tiny drops of frozen evil are falling again in Nicholasville. I’m pretty sure I’m the only person in this part of America who doesn’t run to the window when somebody squeals the invevitable “Oooh it’s snowing!” for the first time in December.

• In the other corner, I love my new Kindle. I need to carve out more time in my day for reading (more than zero minutes), and once that finally happens I will really love my new Kindle. I’m on a quest to read some of the greatest novels in history, and to do that I need people to tell me what are some of the greatest novels in history. When I think of some of the great books I’ve read, I think of “Death of Ivan Ilyich,” “Candide,” “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” “To Kill A Mockingbird,” “The Scarlet Letter,” but I know I haven’t scratched the surface of what books i really need to read to experience the best of the literary art. I haven’t even read “Catcher In The Rye.”

• In less scholarly entertainment news, American Idol and 24 return this month, and I’m pumped

• The music venture is going much better, and quicker, than I ever expected. We have gotten an absurd amount of people at our first three gigs, and as a result, the venues have all asked us back. So we’ve got monthly shows lined up at Brannon Sports Pub by Amstar Theater in Nicholasville, and at Rays Bar & Grill in Knoxville, with a possible third monthly gig in Morehead that we’re working on. Our next two shows are Feb. 12 at Brannon Sports Pub and Feb. 13 in Morehead. This has been a way fun side project for me, and I appreciate those of you who have come out to be a part of it. Also, new web site.

Enjoy your Monday, hope the rest of the weekdays are better.

The dangers of ESPN and the sports news (im)balance

December 31, 2009

Listening to:
Punch Brothers – Punch

By now you’ve heard about the disaster that is this Mike Leach situation at Texas Tech. Basically, Leach was suspended by the school during an investigation into claims that he locked one of his players in a closet — more or less punishing him for suffering a concussion. Leach sued the school and was fired yesterday.

Nobody really knows what happened, but there are roughly a hundred different stories circulating ranging from “he didn’t do it” to “he’s a raging lunatic and has to be stopped.” I have no clue who’s right, but I imagine the truth is somewhere in between, which it always is.

Naturally, ESPN has followed the story closely, but with an interesting caveat. The player — Adam James — is the son of ESPN analyst Craig James. The way ESPN has chosen to deal with the situation for the most part is just make sure to add in a line whenever talking about the story that Adam James is ESPN college football analyst Craig James’ son, presumably to air out any possible conflicts of interest, which is pretty standard.

But then, Craig James spoke publicly about the situation — on Sportscenter — on ESPN.

Wha? Read more…

Need your help with our Top 10

December 22, 2009

Listening To:
Jimmy Eat World – Chase This Light

I’m in the process of compiling the Jessamine Journal’s Top 10 Stories of 2009 list, and I was hoping to have some of you vote on which stories you think were most important. Here is a brief summary of each, and you can vote in the poll at the bottom.

Obama Inauguration: America inaugurates its first African-American President

State budget shortfall: Kentucky state legislators met in session in January only to find that the state budget was up to a half a billion dollars short, depending on whose report you read.

Ice storm: The state was rocked by an ice storm that knocked out power and made roads practically unnavigable. At least one ice-storm-related death was reported in Jessamine County, and the damage totalled $1 million.

Ralph/Ryan/Pete: Jessamine County Schools lost three beloved people in the span of four months. East Jessamine girl’s basketball coach Ralph Sallee passed away during the season in January from cancer, West Jessamine soccer player Ryan Robinson died unexpectedly in March after contracting MRSA, and Jessamine County school board member Pete Royse succumbed to cancer in May. All three were extremely well liked, and they were mourned heavily. Read more…

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