Friday, November 15, 2013

Media Blog

Based on my morning routine, you’d think I was an old man. Monday through Friday, I’m up and 6 am on the dot, slowly springing out of bed and using my cane to make my way to bathroom. When I come back, I throw a bagel in the toaster, turn on my coffee maker and pour a big class a water. I also grab an apple out of the fridge, as well as a 12 ounce bottle Calcium and Vitamin D Orange Juice (which is a necessity because my bones are so brittle in old age).
When my bagel (did I mention that it’s 100% whole wheat and filled with fiber?) is done, I spread natural peanut mixed with flaxseed on top. I don’t do that because I’m old by the way. I do it because it’s delicious AND nutritious, a real win-win.
 But what is the real story here is what I do when my breakfast is all finished (usually around 6:15) – placed neatly on a paper towel – and I sit down in my black chair. I grab the remote, turn on CNN’s New Day (or SportsCenter if I’m feeling adventurous) and watch a few minutes of the shows before grabbing my iPad. I have three newspapers in my newsstand – The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Boston Globe. I read the front-page stories in all of them - with quick stops in the sports and arts sections, looking for anything interesting or a recap of last night’s NBA action – and then I move in.
I tap Safari open and head to Slate. It’s around 6:35 by now and my breakfast is almost finished. There isn’t always something worth my time there, but when I do, it’s incredible. For instance, this past Monday, I found a great essay on how black American slaves played a far larger role in the Revolution than history books indicate. And in fact, one of the major players was a personal slave of George Washington and said slave ended up moving to Canada after the war. I was there, so it was a good refresher.
From there, I make my final two stops between 6:45 and 6:50 – Grantland and The Classical. I usually don’t read anything from either site this early, but I’ll earmark anything that would looks like a good read for my lunch hour. If I have extra time, I’ll squeeze in Tom Ziller’s daily morning column over at SB Nation, which covers everything NBA. (Side note, I really miss watching fundamental basketball. I’ll take a lay-up over a dunk any day.
It’s around 7 when I finish my morning read around. I’ll have finished two or three cups of coffee by then and I’ve read, at a minimum, nine or ten articles. I then go shower, washing off the final bits of haziness and try to process everything I’ve just read. When I get out of the shower, I finish any leftover reading from the night before.
Usually, I can’t remember everything I’ve read, but the vast majority I do. This process continues throughout the day too, as I’ll favorite Tweets with interesting articles attached and binge read them the next day if I have extra time before 8:35 class or before I go to bed. And I usually pick up The Post. And, at some point, I’ll check out WOUB’s web page.
Some writers have become my down personal studies. I have tab in Safari devote specifically to Wright Thompson articles I have not yet read. Then there's Paul Flannery, an essayist who is able to capture the essence of fandom. And there's Rembert Browne, the hilarious, pseudo hippie and Internet presence who writes brilliantly in the first person. But I digress. 
Basically, reading is my version of smoking, a habit I picked up while fighting Charlie in Nam.
In all seriousness, this is a habit developed over a long period of time. My guess is that I picked up this habit from my Dad, who on Saturday mornings during my childhood, would hand me the Plain Dealer and have me read articles from different sections and columns from Regina Brett and Terry Pluto. Those were the days where I woke up at 10 AM and thought that was early.
From there, I started reading the paper on Sundays too, and before long, I was reading it every day of the week, finding myself irate after reading any column from Bud Shaw or Bill Livingston. My Dad & I would race downstairs every morning, battling for the sports page. He won, usually. But once I wanted to race him for the fresh cup of coffee as well as the paper, I started getting up at 6 and beating him to the punch.
I have the same routine, day in and day out. It started last year, when I realized I had extra time on my hands if I got up a little earlier. It differs a little bit on the weekends – excessive whiskey drinking tends to make me sleep in later – but even then it stays the same. I make my breakfast, make my coffee and read as much I can. Sometimes the sources change up a little bit (for example, I sub in Flannery’s Sunday Shootaround on, well, Sunday in place of Ziller’s column.) But in large part, I do the same thing every day.
This habit has been the most constant thing my life. Friends have gone. Family as died. Girlfriends have left. But this has stayed the same.

I guess that’s what happens when you get old.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Eggers Emulation

Note: This is an emulation of my favorite paragraph of what he have read from Eggers so far. It is located on page five.

My family doesn’t have a style, but my mom has a definitive one and it has shaped how my childhood home has looked for years. In our basement bathroom, which used to be painted a safe, if uninteresting, tan, is the truest sign that my mom dictates the décor of our home. The wallpaper has a red and black plaid border that runs through the middle of the wall, surrounded by a variety of dancing grizzly bears. My mom picked them because they made her laugh and smile and she bases a large amount of her decisions based on whether or not something makes her laugh and smile. We got the wallpaper within a few years of moving into our home and there are three types of dancing bears on the wall: the mother and her cub, the bear with the umbrella and the naked bear. They are brown against tan paint and hang just above and below the red and black plaid border. Some also have leaped near the top of the wall and you can only see them if you are looking. The whole set up is simply horrendous, but it has been around for as long as I can remember and become a source of laughter between everyone but my mom, but it has stayed, a true reminder of who has control of the house décor and what kind of person my mother is.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Dillard Emulation

They watched the sailors pull down their ship’s flag – a near worn Union Jack - surrendering their ship to a group of grimy, foul pirates. The leader of the pirates held his saber up to the captain of the ship, grazing his neck ever so slightly. He then slashed the saber, ending the captain’s life in one moment. A few of the swashbuckling buccaneers readied the plank on the edge of the ship, and one by one, the King’s sailors were walked off the ship, one by one into the blue. Only a young lad, who wasn’t more than seven and had hidden himself away, survived and could watch the madness unfold.

You are that boy, trembling from fear and trying to hide from the pirates. Eventually they find you, dragging you to the edge to show you the men who raised you over the past few months. They were your father at sea. They took you to their ship, throwing you in the dark, cold brig. You stayed there for months, barely hanging on.

Six years later, the ship you are on is raided by some English sailors. You are thirteen now and not the same person. Early on in your time with the pirates, all you wanted for someone English to find you. But by the time one calendar year had passed, and the one people to talk to were the same pirates who took you hostage, you slowly become one of them. You start chewing tobacco. Your one trim hair grows into a long greasy mess. Even your facial hair, not thick enough to be a real beard, is untrimmed.

And when an officer of the Royal Navy comes to take you prisoner, you don’t even think of revealing your origins. Instead you spit on the officer’s shoes, resulting in a slap across your face. But you don’t regret it. You are filthy, juvenile scoundrel. You are that way because that’s all you truly know.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Music Post: Control

Before (or after, if that floats your boat) reading, please listen to this song and read the lyrics to Kendrick Lamar's verse:

Control, a song that didn't make Big Sean's sophomore album due to a sampling issue, will - without question or debate - go down as the most polarizing song of 2013. Unfortunately for Big Sean, it's not because of the bars he laid down, although they are very good. It's also not because of the appearance of Jay Electronica, a MC whose skills have become more legend than fact, as he has failed to release a project since signing a record deal with Jay-Z's Roc Nation label. 
This song is memorable and incredible because of the words in one person: Kendrick Lamar.
As the 1990s faded away and we moved to an era where competition is almost non-existent, the 26-year-old Compton MC shook the entire game up when he name dropped most of his relevant peers, even those that has working relationships with. Names like J. Cole, A$AP Rocky and even Big Sean are mentioned and in his voice you hear not only the intended shock value, but the underlying malice in his words. It's almost as if he's daring you to come at him.
His respectful call out is exactly what I think the rap game is missing. Every one is content being friends with one another – no matter what Drake has to say – and not push the game to higher levels, making it more interesting and meaningful. And I think this has a real life applicability to it.
As writers, even if we are writing about different topics and in different styles, we are all going to be trying to feed ourselves from the same plate. The money has to come from somewhere and we are all going to be competing for our own livelihoods, our own futures and a sense of security.
In my ideal profession – long form sports writing – there’s a ton of talent not only at the top (looking at you Wright Thompson, Ben Fowlkes and Jonathan Abrams) but even here at campus there are writers with bright futures that I’m going to go up against. There’s Christian Hoppens from the Post, who just recently caught my eye. And even at the magazine I write for - Backdrop  - has two of my best friends in Athens (Zak Kolesar and Chris Longo) on staff and they both are fantastic.
Sure, I want to see them succeed (and it's a different game because there is far less money involved) but, in the end, I want to out write them every time I put my fingers on the keyboard and I want there to be no doubting my skills as a wordsmith.
And like Kendrick rapped on Control: “What is competition/ I’m trying to raise the bar high/Who tryna jump and get it?”

Monday, September 16, 2013

Ackerman Criticism

When I started reading Diane Ackerman's, I was impressed early on with her ability so vividly describe the senses, especially smell. But when I came to the the middle of the passage titled "The Ocean Inside Us", I felt that she was starting to stretch the importance of smell. While it makes perfect sense that smell has the ability to take us back and remember key moments of our life, I found it to be a little bit extreme to use an "ocean inside of us" as a metaphor. She also (as proven by the use of the word snite, amongst others) has a tendency to use adjectives that the average person isn't going to understand off the top of their head. They can guess through inferring, but it's not the same as reading through as passage and knowing every single word. Maybe if Ackerman used different, more common adjectives the power of smell and other senses would be even more apparent to the reader.

That Smell

Sitting down in class on Monday morning in the Siegfried Auditorium, I opened my laptop to start taking notes on the soon-to-begin lecture. Right before my professor began class, a friend of mine slipped into the chair next to me. He greeted me with foul mixture of cigarette smoke and sweatiness that moved into my nose and didn't move out for another forty-five minutes. We didn't talk, not about the most recent Breaking Bad and most certainty about the Browns pitiful passing attacking like we normally would. I spent the excruciatingly forty-five minutes doing my damnedest to lean a way as far as I could, pretending I was readjusting myself just to avoid interacting with the odor beside me.
When class was over,  and I was able to get away, a sense of relief came over me. Instead of the smoke and stink, I smelled clean air the remnants of the coffee in my cup, glad to just be away from that smell and to be enjoying something that other than that stench sitting next to me.

Monday, September 9, 2013


I woke up this morning around 6:30, my eyes clouded and heavy from a short night of sleep. I walked over, flipped on the light and hit the button on my coffee maker before I opened the door and went to use the restroom.
When I came back, I could detect one scent before I even opened the door: the nectar of the Gods, fresh and warm in the pot. The aroma from far was a rich, strong aroma that only enticed me to pour myself a cup - or three - before I officially started my day.
As I got closer to the coffee maker and began pouring the coffee into my mug, the dark roast - with a subtle hint of cocoa and nuts- engulfed my entire nasal. The smell made me pause for a second and reflect on my coffee drinking career; I think I've had at least one cup of coffee per day since I was sixteen, starting off with sweet, cream-filled, sugar-loaded cups and slowly progressing to the rich, complex and potent smell of the black Starbucks Verona Blend that I drink today.
And right before I took that first sip, with the heat only enhancing the smell and keeping it as the dominant fragrance in my nostrils, the aroma of the coffee got even stronger, as the slightly nutty scent went up my nostrils more further and further. And before I even was able to put my lips on the mug, the strength of the coffee's transfixing, distinct smell removed the heaviness from my eyes, thus prepping me for another day on the grind.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Short Takes #2

Essays Read: The Unknown Solider by Luc Sante & In Wyoming by Marc Spragg
Responding to: The Unknown Solider by Luc Sante.

I was blown away by Luc Sante's essay, the "The Unknown Solider" - but only after getting to the end. At first, his style and prose was baffling to me. Each little section was a a concoction of often depressing events that didn't mesh together is anyway shape or form. But after I got to the end - and specifically the sentence "I am everywhere under your feet" - I had to sit there for a moment and reflect on what I had just read. It was this piece of work that - in an abstract, lucid manner - conveyed a powerful, important message.

We are all unknown soldiers, in some way, shape or form. In such few words, Sante conveyed something that, at least subconsciously, I always knew.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Short Takes Response #1

Short Stories Read: The Khan Men of Agra (page 60) & In Nebraska (page 122)

When I read The Khan Men of Agra, I could not shake the accounts of foreign woman (and Indian being raped and in some cases murdered. Honestly, anytime I read something about Indiana, that's what I think of. Nevertheless, I really liked the piece and one aspect really stuck home with me: travel and taking chances. I've also traveled within the continental United States, but even then you encounter people from those towns that you trust.
The best example of that is when I went to New York. I was about to get a slice of pizza as I walked through some Brooklyn neighborhood and some old black guy in a white Cadillac yelled to me that the pizza there was trash I should go a block over to a place called Eddy's. I listened, got pizza at Eddy's and it was the best pizza I've ever had.

On Dreams

Originally: On Sleep & Dreams
Sleep is something we need - we actually would die without it - but it's something that we can't always have right when we want it. A good night sleep is what lets us feels refreshed, makes us feel alive again and it is where we are truly safe, free from the struggle of the daily grind. In some ways, it is the only way escape from life and the only place were everything we know is safe from change:

“I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I'm awake, you know?” - Ernest Hemingway 

As the world relative to you stop spinning when your eyelids close for the night; That is to say that you are sun that spots shining for a few hours each night when you are asleep. Intertwined with the characteristics mentioned above is the dream - one of the few things in this world that gives us real hope while also not being a tangible item we can buy at the store or on Amazon. They come and go as they please, sometimes impossible to figure out (or remember) but they are something that make you wake up in good mood and are only aided by that second cup of coffee. Above all, though,  dreams are were you life's biggest problems are solved:

"Sleep is the best mediation." - the Dalai Lama

When you sleep, you relax and you wake with the previous days problems wiped from your mind. Even if they come back later, there are moments each day were you have no worries and can just rest. Nothing - not any drug, not any liquor and not any food - is as powerful a force as sleep. So enjoy it, and don't ever - not even the night before that big final - skip it or get so much sleep that your groggy for hours after you wake up. Thus, it's essentially to get that perfect amount of sleep so you can get the most out of time you are awake, because in the end, that's what really matters:

"Those who have compared our life to a dream were right... we were sleeping wake, and waking sleep." - Michael de Montaigne 

Characteristics covered: Long sentences, lots of punctuation and quotations


Montaigne uses long sentences, lots of punctuation and vivid imagery in his writing. Those are the characteristics I aimed to emulate.

“Those who have compared our life to a dream were right... we were sleeping wake, and waking sleep." - Michael de Montaigne

A few nights back, I had the most vivid, peculiar dream set in – of all places – a church. I’m not – emphasis on the not– a religious person in any sense of the word. I haven’t been to church since I was very young and it’s not an experience I particularly remember enjoying then, when perhaps the music and sing-song should have kept me coming back.
I was alone in this church in this dream. There were no parishioners, no priests – just an empty chapel with a wandering, whimsical son sitting in the first pew. Right before waking up, a long-haired, bearded fellow put his hand on my shoulder, not saying a word, but calming me more than I had in days, staring right into my eyes and beyond.
I woke up feeling more relaxed, relived and refreshed than I had it days. I had only slept a little more than six hours and had gotten myself behind on some class reading, immediately make me feel tense and antsy. As I went to shower I quote came to mind:

I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I'm awake, you know?” - Ernest Hemingway

Amen to that, I thought as I stepped into the shower, hoping that a good cleanse could recreate some of the previous night’s magic, even though I knew it to be a highly improbable occurrence.