I guess I’ll be a writer

December 29, 2011

I never outright said, “I’m going to be a writer.” In fact, that thought never really crossed my mind. I had plans to be a marine biologist, nurse, doctor, therapist, psychiatrist, and life-long student. Clearly, not one of those plans worked out. I didn’t go to college to be a journalist or a writer. I blogged, essentially because Twitter didn’t warrant enough space for my thoughts. That’s it. Eventually, blogging triggered something that spoke to me and said, “Yeah, this is something you can do.” And I’ve been doing it, kind of.

I’m not saying I’m a good writer, because I don’t feel like I am. My grammar sucks at times (however, I can totally blame living in Minnesota for my backwards use of the English language), I overuse commas like a teenager overuses initialisms (I learned the difference between initialisms and acronyms about six months ago), and I ramble. A lot. In fact, if there’s one thing I could change about my writing habits, it’s being more concise. I’m still working on it.

The job I had at MSN this past year really helped forced me to tighten up my writing. The pieces I was writing essentially had to tell a story in less than a paragraph. Including most of the who, what, where, when and whys in as little as 2 sentences. It was a challenge.

The other challenge with that job was I was writing for a massive audience. With my blogs, I was writing for a couple dozen readers, on a good day, who didn’t really care if I screwed something up. It was always a little shocking to hear the number of daily page views in the hundreds of thousands, and monthly views into the millions. It sounds huge, and it was, but I never really thought about it much. I think if I obsessed over the numbers, I wouldn’t have been as semi-successful at my job as I was because the O.C.D. would have kicked into high gear.

Aside from my first “big gig” as a writer, which literally fell in my lap and I am ever so grateful for the opportunity (Stephen, if you’re reading this, THANK YOU!), I haven’t worked as a writer. My first job was huge, I’m not sure I’ll be able to beat that just yet. The simple fact is, nearly everyone can write. Which means that my writing needs to be so far above average to even be considered for most jobs. And in order to get more jobs, I need to get more clips and build up my portfolio. So far, I have a few links to pieces I wrote for MSN and a blog.

I know this is something I want to do, and something I can do. However, I’m not going to lie, it’s a pretty intimidating profession. One in which you have to catch the lucky breaks and run with them because the market is so flooded with really talented writers who are still struggling after being in the business for years and still trying to pay off their journalism degrees. I, on the other hand, will throw myself into the crowded pool of writers and keep writing, occasionally posting on my blog, applying for freelance gigs and going after every opportunity I can get. It may take a while, but I’m OK with that.


Oldies but goodies

December 19, 2011

Yes, it’s another music post.

Here are some of my “classic” favorites. Everyone knows and loves most of these. Others might be more obscure, depending on if you have good taste in music or not.

Billy Joel – Vienna

Elton John – Bennie and the Jets

Tell me you don’t “rock out” to this song when it comes on in the car. You can’t. Because everyone does.

The Beatles – I am the Walrus

Boston – Foreplay-Longtime

One of my favorite Boston songs of all time.

Frank Zappa – Muffin Man

This is the album version, which is fan-freakin-tastic.

Here’s the live version, which includes one of my favorite mind-blowing & face-melting Zappa solos.

Electric Light Orchestra – Mr. Blue Sky

Stix – Renegade

Led Zepplin – Bron Yr Aur

One of my all time favorite lyricless songs. It’s just beautiful.

Seals & Crofts – Summer Breeze

Here’s another version by Jason Mraz that I love too.

Pink Floyd – Fearless

The Animals – House of the Rising Sun

Interesting note: one of the first songs I learned on the guitar. Of course after the beginning of Stairway, like everyone else.

It’s been a while since I’ve done a “music” blog post.

Anywho, this is what I’ve been listening to recently.

The Black Keys.

I know they’re kind of a hipster staple, but I have to be honest, I kinda love these guys. Pandora first played me “Tighten Up” and I looked it up on YouTube and fell in love with the video. Mostly because it made me laugh.

Then Pandora started playing more Black Keys and with every listen, I started to like them even more.

“Psychotic Girl.”

Their latest single, “Lonely Boy” is great. The video is even better.

They’re just the sort of band my Dad would love. If only he’d listen to me.

Dan Auerbach.

He’s the guitarist/vocalist from The Black Keys. Pandora played me “Real Desire” and I was hooked. LOVE THIS SONG!! There’s something of an off-beat throughout the song on the drums, which I picked up immediately and at first, it really irked me, but now it’s one of the reasons I love this song so much.

“My Last Mistake” is another one of my favs.

Fitz and The Tantrums.
This is one of those bands where my dad and I practically said “Hey have you heard Fitz and the Tantrums?” at the same time. I love them mostly because of their ’50s/’60s R&B feel. Sure, their music has mostly been breakup songs, but they’re a blast to jam to. Like seriously, I do a lot of car singing and dancing when I listen to Fitz.

“Don’t Gotta Work It Out” is probably one of my favs. Just an all-around fun song from start to finish.

“Rich Girls” is another great song.

Ryan Adams.

Man, there’s so much to love about this guy. I really just love his voice. He’s been around a while, and I’ve listened to him on and off, but recently started diving more into his music.

“Come pick me up” is one of the first songs I feel in love with. It’s just a great tune. I really don’t have much else to say about it.

I also love his cover of “Wonderwall” by Oasis. It’s just so stripped and raw, I honestly like it better than the Oasis version.

From his newest album, “Lucky Now.” It admittedly has a slight country thing happening, but it’s a classic songwriter song. And I love it.

Mat Kearney.

I’ve had a “OMG I LOVE HIM!!” “Ugh I can’t stand this song” relationship with Mat. But you can’t deny that “Hey Mama” is a freaking catchy song. It’s impossible to not get it stuck in your head. Catchy songs are clearly my weakness.

Foster the People.

My dad actually suggested that I listen to these guys (and Arctic Monkeys, but I don’t like them as much.). Of course everyone who listens to the radio anywhere in America has heard “Pumped Up Kicks” on the radio. And while the song is catchy and the band is very unugly, it’s not my absolute favorite. I like to compare Foster to that music you hear blasting at stores in the mall: Annoying Hipster Crap. But I still kind of dig it.

“Call it what you want” is a great tune. It’s kinda got this weird ’90s pop/dance thing going on. But whatevs. I like it.

WTF internet?!

December 7, 2011

These are stories that either made me laugh, cry, or fly into a fit of rage.

1) FDA approves does not approve new hangover pill:
The “pill”, called Blowfish which will sell for $2.99, is a combination of caffeine, aspirin and random crap to calm your stomach and works like magic in 15 to 30 minutes. You know what else contains caffeine and Aspirin and stomach calming stuff? Excedrin and tums. Some outlets reported that the FDA approved this magical little pill on Tuesday, however the FDA says they have not approved the pill to treat hangovers and only recently just heard about it. You’re better off sleeping it off and drinking plenty of water and/or Gatorade anyway.

2) Bennett isn’t real:
Last week or so when I was first introduced to “Texts from Bennett” I wanted him to be real. I really did. Mostly because these “texts” are the most ridiculous things I’ve read this month. Unfortunately, the Smoking Gun reports that Bennett is not real. Well, they don’t really say that, but “Bennett” is a pseudonym for David Sheldon’s real friend or something and Sheldon may or may not be making it up. Who knows. They’re still funny, however less so, now that there’s serious suspicion over the realness of Bennett.

3) “Mythbusters” shoot cannon ball into home
I love the Mythbusters. Mostly because they show you that science can be really funny and sometimes (see: all the time) things go wrong. But I really like when they blow up stuff and show how awesome duct tape is. Anyway, apparently something went wrong when the crew was at the Alameda County Firing Range recently: they fired a cannonball into someone’s home. (Wonder if they’ll air that on the episode they were filming.) Police say the cannonball took “a few unfortunate bounces” and ended up blasting a hole in the wall of the home. No one was injured and police are of course investigating.

4) Commie Muppets are brainwashing your children
Maybe it’s just me and my utter exhaustion at everything being turned into a political “Gotcha!” but for fucks sake, the Muppets are not brainwashing your children. I guess if we’re going that route, better keep your kids away from any “Scrooge” stories this Christmas. You know, because Scrooge is really just a substitute for Corporations who are mean cold-hearted entities that only want to make money and say “Screw you Tiny Tim, hope you die!” (Ok, he never says that… but I’m pretty sure you get my point.) Just take things for what they are, people. It’s a movie, based on the same story line used in nearly every single movie ever made: hero, conflict, resolution=hero wins. If you don’t like it, don’t take your kids to see the movie. And if a movie overrides the values you teach your kids, then you’re probably a bad parent.

The headline may be a little dramatic, but it’s sort of true, none the less. Here’s the story of how it all began.

Background info for those who don’t know:

I’m a sports fan. Love baseball, football and hockey. As far as football is concerned, I basically looked at football sunday as a day to watch the game and lounge around in my pj’s. For years it was a running joke that I only watched the first half of the Vikings game, then I took a nap until 4th quarter was almost over. I knew who key players were from around the league, mostly only the big names though, QBs and RBs and some WRs. I knew the major penalties and the basics of football. But never paid much attention to other teams unless they were playing the Vikings.


Back in August, @Bnizz81 (Brian) asked me if I wanted to join his brother’s fantasy football team. They needed more people and were apparently really desperate. (Kidding.) So I decided to join. I spent weeks four days researching players, stats, listening to fantasy football radio shows (yeah, they exist) and going over who I wanted on my team.

The night before the draft Brian and I sat at the kitchen table, with computers, lists of player rankings and probably beer. I would waiver from “I’m just going to go with the best available player” to “no, I need a damn strategy, if I get the 10th pick I’m picking a quarterback, but if I end up some where in the middle, I’m picking a running back.” I’d ask Brian about players I’d never heard of and I’d highlight the ones I wanted, adding an “L” next to the late rounders, and “LS” for “late sleepers.” I felt proud, I had a plan and super secret codes. And I even named my team “The Girl” (because when I beat a guy, they’d have to say “The Girl kicked my ass today.” and also, I was the only girl in the league at the time) I was ready.

Then came our draft. Tables were set up, computers everywhere and of course food and beer. I think I got the 4th pick (I can’t really remember). And we began.

It was going so fast and finally it was my turn. I grabbed Ray Rice.

I’m pretty sure I grabbed Fred Jackson next, then Ben Roethlisberger. 6 hours and a 12-pack later, I had my team.

Wk 1 team, no longer have players oulined in red

A couple weeks later, the season began.

Prior to the first Sunday: I set my line up and let it go. I actually didn’t obsess about it too much simply because I knew I had a killer team. (Ok, I probably did obsess about it a little. I was a girl in a fantasy football league with people I knew, unlike those other leagues where you don’t know anyone, and there’s money on the line. I had something to prove.)

First game day: I watched most of the games. We had food laid out and I spent most of the day watching games and periodically checking my score. (I didn’t want to get too excited).

This went on for a few weeks. Then it started to turn ugly. I went from “periodically” checking my fantasy score, to being obsessed with it. Three minutes into a game I’d be pissed (jokingly, of course) if Ben hadn’t thrown for two dozen yards already. My phone would be nearly dead by the end of the early games from checking my score so much, it was a good day if it lasted until the late afternoon games. Then came the redzone phase. On my cable it’s not in HD so that kinda sucks, but I’d flip between the Fox game, the CBS game (if there was one) and the red zone. This went on all. day. long. I’d even wake up early to watch the fantasy football show on ESPN 2. I became an addict.

Sunday nights I’d stay up until waaay passed my bed time to watch SNF and of course the same thing on Monday (although, if I didn’t have players, I’d head to sleep early.)

Then came the injuries and bye weeks.

First it was Dan Carpenter’s busted leg. I wasn’t too worried, picking up a kicker isn’t a big deal.

The bye weeks. They were rough. And that’s all I have to say about that.

Then the most devastating injuries: Jahvid Best and Fred Jackson. I thought it was all over. I picked up Jonathan Stewart to replace Best and C.J. Spiller to replace Jackson. They’ve been ok. But I really miss having Best and Jackson.

The most challenging part of my fantasy team has to be my quarterback situation. If I started Ben, Fitz would have a killer game, or if I started Fitz, Ben would have a killer game. I even got so pissed at Fitz (after his billion dollar contract ruined him) that I dropped him and picked up Orton a few weeks ago. Out of spite mostly. And partially because I hated having to pick between two decent quarterbacks every week. I eventually picked up Fitz again, because I missed the heartbreak and failure, apparently.

Now, we’re heading into the playoffs. I’m 7-5 (most of my losses happened during the bye weeks). I think I’ll plan to keep my line up almost exactly how it is. But that will definitely depend on who I’m playing and how I decide to manage my QB situation. If you follow me on Twitter you know every Sunday I ask “Should I start Ben or Fitz?” I don’t expect that to change through the playoffs.

Week 12 lineup

In the end, I’ve realized that fantasy football has helped me be a better fan. I can more easily spot pass interference, offsides and holding calls before the ref even blows the whistle. But there’s a dark side, many conversations are now starting to revolve around football. Not just on Sundays but everywhere. I’m beginning to forget what the hell we talked about before all this fantasy football stuff started.

My next struggle after the playoffs: deciding which players I want to keep for next year.

Here’s the deal folks, I’m giving away free stuff. Actually audiobooks so it’s not just stuff. “But, why?” you might be asking. Well, mostly because I can. And also, it’s pretty cool to give stuff to people. (Seriously, try it sometime, it’s a great feeling.) Sure, it’s not like giving away $100 bills to strangers, it’s even better because listening to a book is like 500 times easier than actually reading a book. Also, if you’re traveling over the holidays it’s a great way to “read” and run through the airport at the same time. You can’t do that with a real book.

I will be giving away exactly ONE audiobook each week for the next three weeks. There may or may not be a contest in order to win.

This week, there is a contest.

Here are the details:

1) Let me know which book you want and why. (The books will be coming from Audible.com so head there if you want to browse.)

2) You have to write it in the form of a haiku and leave it in the comments below. (5-7-5, or Bing it to find out how to write a haiku.)

Your haiku must be received by Wednesday 9 p.m. CST to be eligible. The winner will be announced on Twitter Thursday morning by 10 a.m. CST. You should probably follow me on Twitter, if you don’t already, so I can let you know if you won. It would also be wise to include your Twitter name with your haiku so I know who wrote it. (Don’t send me your haiku on Twitter, it’s much easier to have them all in the same spot, so put it in the comments below.)

PS: This is supposed to be fun, so don’t be an asshat.