Sunday, December 30, 2012

400



This is the 400th blog that I have posted since switching over to this platform in 2009 [click here for why]. I don't have an actual number for how many blogs I posted before that, but I would say I probably had close to 300 blogs on my old MySpace page. That's a lot of writing.

I was urged to create a MySpace page in late 2005, my sophomore year of college. I did and enjoyed what was there. One of the first features I saw was the ability to write and post blogs. I didn't know much about blogging at the time, but I instantly felt like that was something that I would enjoy doing.

I had spent 4 years writing for my high school newspaper and I was starting my second year on Concord University's newspaper staff, The Concordian, so I enjoyed writing and was looking forward to how I would utilize this feature.

Starting in 2006, I thought I would use the MySpace blog as a supplement to The Concordian. Three issues had been released at that point and I decided to look at each one and write what I did and didn't like about it. I thought it would be fun and people would like it.

Well, people did like it. And, some people did not like it. Most of the people who didn't like it were some of my fellow staff members.

One of my "beats," if you will, was to cover Concord's Student Government Association. Something that I saw as a problem in early 2006 was that several high-ranking members of the SGA were staff members of The Concordian, including the Editor-in-Chief.

I thought I could use the newspaper to present my stories and disseminate the news in an unbiased manner, while using the blog as an avenue to voice my opinion and get my point of view across. I brought up that I saw the influx of SGA members on the newspaper staff as a potential conflict of interest. It very obviously was. Here's how it all came to a head:

There was a proposal made by a student to allow pets in the dormitories. Like cats and dogs and shit. Kind of crazy. I interviewed her and wrote a story about it. She was trying to get SGA support behind it so it could build momentum. At the weekly staff meeting, the SGA Board of Governors representative (Editor-in-Chief) mentioned my article to the SGA President (staff writer). They started to laugh about it. A couple other SGA members on the staff started to laugh about it. One of the members said something that stuck out to me.

In the next issue of the newspaper, I wrote a piece on the opinions section about how I overheard SGA members making fun of that girl and her proposal. I specifically (anonymously) quoted the one who stuck out to me.

At the next staff meeting, we had a group discussion about staff relations and how it was inappropriate to do stuff like that to your own staff members. I initially tried to defend myself by naming the positions of the people I talked about. The SGA President responded by saying that he wasn't the SGA President when he was in this meeting, he was a Concordian staff writer. After that I shut up and let them finish; I didn't care anymore. The Editor-in-Chief concluded by saying that if we have any issues to discuss them as a staff, and not to write about it in your blog. The SGA people chuckled.

After that, I concentrated very heavily on writing about the SGA and my issues with their leadership. That event was the catalyst for me becoming "that guy who writes blogs about the SGA."

One of my things is that I feel like people need to know the real story. I always tried to do that with The Concordian and when it wasn't as good a publication as I felt it should be, when the readers weren't getting the real story, I voiced my displeasure with it on my blog. When the SGA wasn't helping the students in the way I felt they should, I wrote about it.

Initially, doing that caused me some scorn. I had a scarlet letter of sorts on me; I was "that guy." But, another thing happened over the months, semesters, and years - people started to respect me for speaking my mind and standing up for what I believed in.

After I left the newspaper staff, I was still a student and I continued to attend SGA meetings and write about them. I did that for a majority of 300 MySpace blogs that are no longer here and a huge chunk of 399 blogs here that you can check out.

I've also expanded my writing to other stuff I'm passionate about - namely professional wrestling. I've actually tried to distance that from this blog, since most of my readers aren't in to that. If you do like to read that stuff, then you know where I post it. 

A problem I've had lately is that I really haven't done much of interest with my life and therefore haven't had much of interest to write about it. I spoke about this recently with a former SGA member from my "glory years." This blog isn't really important at the moment, and I feel like it used to be. Some people like to read about me growing a beard and listening to random gloomy songs that I embed, but it's not must-read material.

A successful blog needs to have a focus. It has to be about something. This blog used to have a specific purpose. It doesn't really have one at the moment. That's something that I would like to change. The idea would be to change the fact that I'm not doing much of interest. Then I'll write about interesting things. I'll keep you guys updated on how that goes.

So, this was the first 400. Let's see how the next 400 go.

End of 2012

The year is almost over. I've had a few people ask what I'm doing for New Year's Eve. I've never really seen that as a holiday to celebrate. Mostly, because it's not really a holiday. It's a day. But, I enjoy drinking alcohol in moderation (or not in moderation), so I guess I'll probably "celebrate" the occasion somehow.

Several of my recent New Year's Eves have been spent at Pizza Hut. I watched the year change as I watched people clean and I did fancy management computer stuff. I'll more than likely be able to actually do "stuff" this time. So, we'll see what happens with that.

The last month of the year, like the last few years, has seemingly been a blur. The whole year seems like it went by quickly. It really doesn't seem like 12 months ago when I wrote that blog looking at legislation that would allow medical marijuana in West Virginia. I don't recall hearing anything else about that this year. I emailed the delegate who drafted the legislation and he (or his office) never replied to me.

It's started snowing again, which I'm not a fan of. I guess I'm not necessarily against snow, I just don't like it being cold. If it's going to be cold, it might as well snow. A lot of people I know seem to like it.

I guess that's all I've got for a retrospective looking at my 2012. It's been very underwhelming. We could probably even say it was a wasted year. Hopefully 2013 will see me accomplish a little bit more.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Reflecting

Today's school shooting is so hard to comprehend. Several young children are dead. A man walked into an elementray school and killed several people. The news has been quick to point out that this ranks as the second deadliest school shooting of all time, after the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007. Hearing talk of Virginia Tech got me reflecting back to April 16, 2007. I was a college student an hour down the road from Virginia Tech that day.

I remember that day, and more specificially the morning after, vividly. This was back in the days before Twitter and smartphones and constantly being connected to the world. I had a gray flip phone that didn't even take pictures. But you could play blackjack on it...

I woke up and went about my day. As I was walking through the student center I noticed that CNN was on one of the televisions and first noticed what was going on at Tech. I continued my day and then watched some more CNN in my room later that afternoon, trying to absorb what was going on.

I was the News Editor of The Concordian, Concord University's newspaper. I was the #2 in charge, behind LeAnne Davis, the Editor-in-Chief. The newspaper staff met weekly every Monday evening. Virginia Tech was the main point of discussion, obviously.

With a weekly newspaper, you don't really deal with much breaking news. The Virginia Tech shooting happened on Monday. The newspaper's deadline was Tuesday morning, to be printed Wednesday. So, that was a topic of discussion as well. But, what would we do? It was then decided to wait a week and let more information come out before we made any move.

Tuesday morning, we had an unofficial meeting in the newspaper office between myself, LeAnne, and Cory Williams, the newspaper's faculty advisor. He had printed off some news articles about VT and more information had finally become available. We now knew that at least 30 people had died. I distinctly remember Cory Williams saying, "This is big. We have to do something."

There were two places in the newspaper to do something - the front page and the opinion section. I don't remember how we decided who would do what, but LeAnne interviewed Concord's head of campus police and wrote a front-page piece about how they were making sure Concord was safe. I took to the opinion section and wrote something.

That's kind of how I look at it. It is what it is. It's "something." Some people told me they liked it. I wrote it not even 24 hours after something so horrific and scary. And I didn't know what to say. I usually try to write to a large audience, so that everybody can relate to it. In this instance, though, I wrote directly to college students. I tried to maintain a serious tone and tried to throw in a little humor, but not too much to make light of the situation. I wanted people reading it to understand how serious things were, but I also wanted them to smile at least once. I felt like people needed to smile and wanted to do my part.

What I wrote April 17, 2007, is below. You can see for yourself if I accomplished what I set out to do.

* * *

Originally published April 18, 2007; The Concordian, Concord University

I woke up Monday afternoon (yeah, I know I'm lazy) not quite knowing what to expect.

Mondays are always my "interesting" days, with my Ultimate Frisbee mini course, newspaper staff meeting, and night class; not to mention the Monday night exploits of World Wrestling Entertainment.

Sadly, Monday April 16, was interesting for an entirely different reason.

As the early afternoon unfolded for me and I watched CNN in my room and realized just what had happened an hour down the road at Virginia Tech, I couldn't believe what I was seeing.

As of Tuesday morning, there are over 30 Virginia Tech students dead as a result of a shooting.

Personally, I don’t have any immediate friends who are students at Virginia Tech, but my heart obviously goes out to them.

It has to.

This situation is different for college students as opposed to older generations. An older person will watch this and say, "Some kids died."

I watch this and think, "I could have gone to Virginia Tech; my friends could be there."

As least 30 of our peers are no longer in this world as a result of somebody with a gun.

It boggles my mind how things like this can happen.

A lot of people who need their families right now can't be with them, and it's sad.

My mother called me Monday night to make sure I was okay.

I think she called me more to make sure she was going to be okay.

I can’t imagine what my grandfather is going through right now.

My freshman year, a college student in Nebraska fell out of his dorm-room window and died, and my grandpa frantically called my mom wanting to know how safe my windows were.

My sophomore year, he watched the news one night and again frantically called my mother, wanting to know if I've had my meningitis shot.

Sadly, there’s no humor in my grandfather's frantic junior-year phone call to my mother.

There is nothing that we can do to bring back the lives of the murdered Virginia Tech students.

All we can do is pick up the pieces - like we always do - and try to go on with our lives as best we can.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What's the big deal? Some 'Buckwild' thoughts



Above is the trailer for MTV's latest reality series "Buckwild," which is basically a version of "Jersey Shore" set in West Virginia. And "Jersey Shore" was basically a more centralized version of MTV's "The Real World." Everything has already been done; one thing is just a different version of something else.

I first heard about Buckwild earlier in the year, as MTV was holding casting calls for a WV-based reality series. A few people I followed on twitter were attempting to get on the show. They didn't.

The show was in the news locally here last week after the trailer first came out. It then became national news after WV Senator Joe Manchin publicly decried the show and asked for MTV to cancel it.

My thoughts on this show are going to differ from most of my peers in West Virginia. I've lived in WV for my entire life and I won't be surprised if I never move out of the state. I have no problem with Buckwild and what it represents.

It's an exaggerated version of a small subculture of the state. Whatever you want to call them - rednecks, hillbillies, etc... they exist in West Virginia and this is what Buckwild is showcasing. While I've never seen anybody make a pool out of a dump truck or play around with a crane, I have seen a lot of people ride four-wheelers and shoot guns and drive big trucks and talk with ridiculous southern accents. That exists and that's what MTV is showing.

People are talking about how it gives the state of WV a bad name. Honestly, did WV have a good name to begin with? What reputation are we losing here?

And if your "reality" of a state and its people is based on watching a show on MTV, then you have bigger problems to worry about. Do I hate New Jersey because of "Jersey Shore"? No. There's a reason why people roll their eyes when saying "reality television." It's not real. It's people placed in dramatic situations to get television ratings.

If you want to be entertained by it, then check it out. If you don't, just think about how many cable television channels there are. Watch one of those. I couldn't tell you the last time I watched MTV, aside from occasionally checking out music videos at 4 in the morning. Yeah, they still play music videos.

I know it won't be that easy. Everybody in the state will watch and comment. My twitter feed will be inundated with "I can't believe they're showing this crap" on whatever day after the newest Buckwild airs.

I'll have to listen to my girlfriend complain about it. I'll say to her, "Why? Just don't watch it." And she'll say, "I just wanted to see how they're representing our state." And I'll say, "It's not a real representation, stop worrying about it." And then she'll keep talking about it. And I won't listen. And then she'll call me out for not listening. A fight will ensue. I just don't need that in my life.

The uproar over Buckwild is much ado about nothing. If you're upset about it, stop. If you're interested in it, watch it. It will likely be an entertaining television show, full of drama and comedy. It won't be an honest representation of West Virginia and Appalachia. So, stop being upset about it existing. It's just a television show based in the state.

Buckwild should begin airing in January. For more information about the show, check out the official MTV page with cast bios and more: http://www.mtv.com/shows/buckwild/cast.jhtml

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Tricycle Offense post: Rock vs Cena

Here's the latest piece I sent in to the multimedia blog Tricycle Offense. It's a dvd review of the WWE-produced 3-disk set looking at the year-long feud between John Cena and The Rock. Here's the link - http://tricycleoffense.com/2012/11/28/was-rock-v-cena-really-once-in-a-lifetime/

As the title states, "Was Rock vs Cena really once in a lifetime?" I don't really think it is. It's a good documentary, which you'll learn more about if you click the link. I just feel like they over hyped it a little bit as being "the best ever." And, also, it looks like a Cena/Rock rematch will be taking place at WrestleMania 29 in April, so it's really not once in a lifetime if that comes to fruition.

I have a couple more DVD reviews I'm going to be sending in soon. I recently watched the 3-disk sets looking at the nWo and the "Attitude Era." Both were interesting. As soon as I get motivated I'll send those in. An idea is also percolating in my head to write a piece looking at the sharp contrast between Zack Ryder's 2011 (when he was one of the most popular superstars in WWE) to his 2012 (where he's in a comedy tag team with Santino Marella and treated like a joke). It sort of ties into the Attitude Era dvd in a way.

If there's anything you'd like to see my write about, let me know and I'll try to crank something out for you.

I should have learned by now

When I was growing up, I had my list of chores. I had to clean my room, I occasionally had to vaccum the house, mow the lawn, etc... There was one that I hated more than anything and that was to take out the trash. What I hated about it was that it was a multiple-step job. You have to take the bag out, tie it, take it where it needs to go, and then re-bag.

The part that angered me the most about taking out the trash was that I would always forget that last step. I cannot tell you how many times I would be sitting on my couch watching television or playing Nintendo 64 and my mom's voice would chime in with, "Get in here and put a garbage bag in the trash can!"

I would mutter incomprehensible words of anger to myself and slowly work my way into the kitchen to finish my job.

Fast forward 15 years. I took the trash out last night. Today, I wiped up something with a paper towel and walked over to the trash can and was about to throw it in there. But, I stopped when I noticed that there was no garbage bag in it.

To help illustrate what's wrong with my life, what did I do about it? Did I go get a trash bag? No. I wrote a blog about it.