Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Thoughts from July 30, 2014



I've been in a Killers mood lately.

I got a haircut. I like it. I usually don't, because they always cut my bangs too short. Not this time.

The weather is nice. I'm wearing flip flops. That makes me happy.

I miss driving. Not having your license severely limits what you can and can't do. I hate how much independence I've lost these last several months.

I heard the phrase "superficially intelligent at times" used to describe me. I have no idea what that means.

I hate having a protective case on my phone. But then I worry constantly about dropping it.

I told a person recently about how OCD I am about washing my hands and other odd quirks about me. I feel weird about having revealed it.

I'm happy with my new tattoo. Three of my four tattoos have been somewhat spur-of-the-moment. I've had the ideas in my head for only a couple days before I get them done. One, I had planned out for a couple years.

One of the scariest questions anybody can ask me is "What kind of music do you like?" I never know how to respond to it.

I hate BuzzFeed. It's one of the most worthless websites I've ever seen. It's only redeeming quality is the amount of pictures of pugs that it shows.

I got drunk one night and tweeted back-and-forth with popular podcaster and comedian Marc Maron and didn't remember it the next day. I wonder what else I've done and don't remember.

I think girls with a lot of tattoos are attractive. Is it because they're hot and have tattoos, or is it because the tattoos make up for whatever lack of hotness they had? Does that make sense? Do I like the girl or the tattoos on the girl? Hopefully it's both.

I worry that people don't like me. Everybody I've ever told that to tells me that it's ridiculous. Maybe because I only tell it to people who like me. 

I don't understand why I'm friends with most of the people on Facebook. Also, replace the words "on Facebook" with "in life."

One time when I was 19, my grandpa looked at me and asked how tall I was. When I told him, he thought for a second and replied, "Hmmmm... I guess you're never gonna be 6 foot, then?" I'm 27 and still rocking a solid 5 feet, 5 inches.

I don't understand the idea of wanting an autograph from somebody famous. I also don't understand the idea of "celebrities."

I've lived in the same area for 13 years and barely know any of the street names. I'm horrible with giving people directions.

I have a lot of ideas in my head. I think that's one reason why I don't accomplish much at times: I know that I can do a lot of great things and sometimes that's enough for me. I need to change that way of thinking.

The only thing I lie about: if somebody asks me if I've seen a certain movie, I will usually say yes just to move the conversation along. "Yes." "This is just like [insert scene]." "Yes it is."

That's about it for now.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Episode 24: Placeholder Podcast



Episode 24 is live! This one is called "Placeholder Podcast." Why? Because I have all of these awesome interviews and show ideas planned for the coming weeks, but none for this week. So, I talk into a microphone for 45 minutes and give it all to you.

Topics addressed this week include:

- Future podcast ideas including an update on the video podcast.

- What my new tattoo means, including a 5-minute interview with the tattoo artist while he's doing it.

- My take on the issues involved in episode 23, specifically my thought on whether the Washington Redskins should change their name.

- How social media has affected relationships with people, using @JohnnieJae as an example.

- Drunk texting and how I need to stop, which leads into SnapChat and how I am a fan of the texting/picture service.

- I tell the story of how a man tried to pick me up at a bar and how I would have handled the situation in hindsight.

- I talk about fun apps that you need for your phone and close with a twitter account you need to follow.

All that and more is included in episode 24 of the "Communication Breakdown" podcast. Big things are happening in the coming weeks, we just have to be patient and get there.

If you have comments or questions, feel free to leave comments here or on Facebook or Twitter or wherever.

Sting makes first official WWE appearance



For nearly 20 years, Sting had been unofficially known as the biggest wrestling superstar to never sign a WWE contract. Earlier this year, rumors started making the rounds that Sting and WWE were finally in negotiations. At 55-years-old, I guess Sting realized that the time is now or never to make any kind of serious impact in a WWE ring.

Steve Borden aka Sting began his career in the mid 1980s as a tag team with the man who would eventually become the Ultimate Warrior. After the two split ways, Sting started to become a star in the UWF promotion. That promotion was eventually bought by the NWA: Mid Atlantic promotion, which was then bought by Ted Turner and became World Championship Wrestling.

While "bigger" stars like Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan took the spotlight for themselves most of the time, Sting was considered the backbone of WCW. He was a multiple time WCW World Champion and the biggest "homegrown" star. Ric Flair was a star for nearly 20 years before there was a WCW. Hulk Hogan was the biggest star in WWE during the 80s. Aside from a couple rookie years spent in different territories, the man known as Sting became the public face of WCW among wrestling fans.

A deeply religious man, Sting had stated during several interviews that he was not a fan of WWE's adult-oriented material. So, when Vince McMahon bought WCW in 2001, most did not expect Sting to appear in a WWE ring. Even if Sting wanted to, he had a very rigid contract that basically kept him on the sidelines and earning a big payday. "Diamond" Dallas Page was the most notable big-name WCW wrestler to negotiate a buyout of his WCW contract to appear for WWE. Most of the bigger names like Sting, Goldberg, and Kevin Nash chose to sit by and collect their money.

Sting did eventually get the urge to wrestle again, making a few 2003 appearances in NWA: TNA, the biggest rival promotion to rise up against WWE since WCW's demise. He was treated like a legend on his retirement tour and people really believed Sting was done.

Near the end of 2005, rumors came out that Sting was negotiating with TNA. It became unofficially official when random black bats - Sting's weapon of choice - began showing up during TNA broadcasts. Sting made his official TNA debut in early 2006.

Sting, in his late 40s and early 50s in TNA, completely rejuvenated his career. While he couldn't go as hard as he did in his prime, Sting definitely wasn't phoning it in. In the ring or creatively; Sting added new elements to his in ring career and even changed up his character. For the first time ever, Sting began showing up without his trademark face paint, and he even tweaked his character and adopted a "Joker" like mad man edge to his character and paint.

Knowing that each year might be his last, Sting only signed one-year contracts with TNA. A couple times, Sting would take a sabbatical around October each year due to his current contract expiring and a new one not being done yet. And that was around the time each year that the "Sting to WWE" rumors began.

The last couple years, the rumors were at a fever pitch. He's getting much older and he needs to do something. It eventually happened. Sting lost a match for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship with the stipulation being that he retire if he lost. He lost, which meant he was written out of TNA. 

It came out that Sting was negotiating with WWE. As Spring turned to Summer, nothing new had come out except that WWE had sent Sting a contract and he had yet to sign it. It now looks like that contract is signed, as Sting has a spot in the latest WWE video game, a merchandise line, and he made his first official appearance with WWE at the San Diego ComicCon.

To steal a line from Sting: finally, it's showtime. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Episode 23: Washington Redskins



Sorry for the technical difficulties I had the last few days. Here is my quasi-debate on the issue of the Washington Redskins. The podcast is a little over an hour long. I know I said I would try not to do that so often, but in reality this is two half-hour interviews. So, that's not too bad.

The first 35 minutes or so is my discussion with Mike Stanton. I have known Mike for 8 or 9 years and I like him. He was on the newspaper staff at Concord University when I was the Editor-in-Chief. He had a popular sports column and had a good following. Some may not have liked him, but everybody knew who he was. I'm kind of the same way; maybe that's why we get along so well.


Mike is a big Washington Redskins fan and was eager to defend the usage of the team nickname. For Mike's interview, I ask him to give some background on the history of the team and some information about the team owner, Dan Snyder. One would think I asked him beforehand to get this information; no, I knew he would have this stuff off the top of his head. And, he did.


Mike talks a lot about politics and the fact that we live in such a politically correct world. Mike tries to look at the fact that the team name carries a connotation of pride and success and all that other good stuff. He cites polls saying that Native Americans themselves like the name and also brings up the double standard of team names like "Fighting Irish" and others.


The next part of the interview is Johnnie Jae, a lady I found on Twitter. Click here to read the "preview" blog that explains more about how I got in contact with her. Johnnie is a Native American living in Oklahoma. She is involved with the "Native Max" magazine and "A Tribe Called Geek." Indigenous issues are important to her and she is very passionate about wanting to get rid of the Washington team name.


As is common in debates, Mike brings up one side and - without me really telling her much of what Mike said - Johnnie brings up the exact opposite point. Mike says the name should be a sense of pride. Johnnie talks about how their is no pride in mocking Native American culture.


Below is a partial transcript of their interviews. Mike is first, followed by Johnnie. 


* * *


Mike Stanton


Background...


I grew up in the Springfield, Virginia area where actually is where I’m at now. And, that’s just a suburb, like Northern Virginia, just outside of DC. I’ve always been a sports fan; grew up playing soccer. And, people always told me I had a voice for radio and all that good stuff and to go into broadcasting. Once I ran out of talent as a middle school soccer player I shifted gears to other sports and I’ve always been a big Redskins fan. With the Redskins, since I’m from the DC area, I’m a big DC sports fan. I’ve been a big Redskins fan, especially since the first grade when they wound up winning the Super Bowl that year, over Buffalo. I’ve been a diehard fan of them ever since. A little known fact about me is that I actually taught myself how to read, so I could read the sports page.


Concord University newspaper, The Concordian...


I absolutely loved it. You’re able to go to different games on campus and, unfortunately when I was Sports Editor that was around the time that the football team was actually 0-11 that year. And, then they had the transition and a couple coaches later they are a winning team and the champs every year they compete. I wanted that every year I was in college, but never really had that luxury. But, covering campus sports was, whether it was Concord football, basketball, soccer, on both men’s and women’s sides, it was just a cool aspect of Division II sports.


Redskins owner, Dan Snyder...


He actually bought the team in 98-99. He was originally from Maryland. He was a lifelong Redskins fan before he bought the team. He wound up buying the team because what happened was the previous owner, Jack Kent Cooke, passed away. And instead of passing the team down to his son, John Kent Cooke, he put the team up for auction in his will, which kind of messed up his family’s chance of getting it. And, then Dan Snyder wound up having the top bid and the rest is history that way. He has owned the team since ‘99 and the year after he bought the team they changed the name of their stadium from Jack Kent Cooke stadium, which was named after the previous owner, to FedEx Field, who’s the sponsor right now. Actually, with the Redskins name controversy, people are trying to get FedEx now to comment one way or the other and they’re saying “No comment” right now.


Washington Redskins controversy...


I think the main reason there’s a controversy is because we’re in a place of overblown political correctness where people just look for something to be offended by. With the Redskins name, it comes up every so often, but it also usually comes up when the team has success. Whereas, usually when they’re struggling and out of the media’s eye, you never really hear anything. I think you’re hearing it a lot more because more people in higher influence, like for example, Harry Reed, President Obama, have jumped into the controversy saying it’s offensive. The thing about them is, they might be saying it’s offensive but they might not know the background of it. They’re just saying it’s offensive because we’re going off of a few Indian tribes who are saying it’s offensive and not going over the whole landscape where the whole majority do not find it as an offensive term.


To me, it means pride and all that good stuff and tradition. It’s essentially an old Indian word, with the media right now, you’d almost think it was a racial term brought forth by a white man. But, it’s actually an old Indian word. Basically, you know how you have war paint and all that. With Indians, they would actually have this paint, I forget what kind of berry it came from, but it was actually like an insect repellent that they would use and it would make their skin look red. That’s how redskin came about that way. It wasn’t a derogatory term about a skin color or anything. It was basically the way the skin looked after getting a little bit of food coloring from the berries and stuff that way.


There are some, but I think some are offended by it to be offended by it, if that makes any sense. You also have a majority of Indian tribes who love the name and have even come forth saying that they find it offensive if they change the name. They find it as pride and tradition, and you have a lot of Indian reservations that actually have high school nicknames as the Redskins. You have a lot of Indian tribes who find the name to be a positive.


Other teams changing their name...


I think just political correctness. To me, it’s almost the equivalent of around Christmas time, people want the nativity scene up and all that, but you have the one person who finds it offensive so they cater to that one person instead of the others, where 99 people would want something and one person wouldn’t, but that one person would get their way. Like, a lot of schools changed because, Miami of Ohio was the Redskins and now they’re the Red Hawks and then, Stanford was the Indians and now they’re the Cardinals. Granted, their Cardinal is the color, as opposed to the bird Cardinal, but that’s another story. But, it’s just one of those where a lot of those groups just cave into the political correctness. They change it because they think it’s offensive or they change it to appease groups, whereas others don’t want to change it.


An example of that is North Dakota, they’re the Fighting Sioux. They don’t want to change the name even though they’re being forced and there are Sioux in the area who are supporting them. And then you have the Florida State Seminoles actually have the backing of the Seminoles and they’re still the Seminoles. A lot of people just find something to be offended by. Right now, the Redskins aren’t the only name that has a little bit of controversy. You still have the Kansas City Chiefs, Cleveland Indians, Chicago Blackhawks. Even PETA is trying to get the animal names of all the teams changed because it’s offensive to animals. One thing that if they happen to ever change the Redskins name, is to go after a few other names. I’m Irish and I like the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, but that’s offensive to Irish because not all Irish people are drunks. Granted, sometimes we might be, but it’s one of those things where sometimes it’s offensive. 


Will the name change...  


Fifty-fifty. I don’t want it change, but it might be a policial correctness thing where it would not surprise me if within a year or two, to bring Donald Sterling into this, the owner of the Clippers who had racist comments and is being forced to sell the Clippers. It wouldn’t surprise me if if comes to a point where Dan Snyder refuses to change the name and then they’re like “Since you refuse to change the name, we’ll take the team aways from and then we’ll change the name.” Which, that would obviously be a couple billion dollar lawsuit, right there, obviously, because the Redskins are the fourth-most expensive franchise in the world, behind Manchester United, the Dallas Cowboys, and New England Patriots. So, having almost like a forced thing, because I don’t think Dan Snyder would change the name; he’s basically said he’s not. I think if they ever do, it would be something like Bravehearts or Warriors. As a Redskins fan, it would be hard, I would still root for the team, but myself and the majority would still be calling them the Redskins.


* * *


Johnnie Jae


Native Max & A Tribe Called Geek...

Native Max is kind of, it’s all indigenous, and it focuses on fashion, so we feature a lof of our - I guess you could say we kind of get away from stereotypes. Basically our main goal is to show that we are modern people and, you know, when you think about fashion in the mainstream world it’s, you know, desecration of the war bonnet, it’s the hokey so-called Navajo print designs that you see on, like, Urban Outfitters. It’s just, kind of like, we wanted to show the other side, that we do have indigenous fashion designers and that you can be inspired by Native American culture without being offensive. We actually have a policy in place at our magazine where we will not feature any woman or man who has not earned a war bonnet in our magazine. We try to respect our, I guess you could say we try to respect everybody’s different cultures. That’s one of the reasons we started the magazine - to show the other side.

With A Tribe Called Geek, it’s kind of the same thing. I’m a geek and I’m into pop culture. Like, I love “Dr. Who” and I love sci fi, and I’m a comic book nerd. So, I wanted to kind of show that we are more modern and that we’re not, basically we’re not the stereotypes that people think.

Washington Redskins controversy...

I guess you would say it’s the last remnant of outright embracing of racist ideology. You know, if it was called like the Washington Asians or the, and I hate using slurs, so I’ll use the general terms. It’s the same thing. There’s no other team that is called the Redskins. It’s not the White skins or the Yellow skins. It’s just - come on, it’s 2014 and for me, knowing the history of the terms. Historically, it was just a more humane way of people to say “Oh hey, we’re gonna call redskins” instead of “Oh hey, we’re gonna call for Indian skins.” Because back then, they did trade scalps like they would trade fur or rabbit skin or deer skin. It was the same thing.

All this gets lost because they’re not taught this in history. Like, when you’re in history classes, you don’t really get a look at Native American history. You get like a little skim over. It’s kind of, you get a skewed perspective of Native American history. You don’t really get into, I guess you would say they kind of - what’s the word - they try to make it less horrendous than it really was.

Nobody really knows the history. Nobody really knows where these words originated. And, it’s true - redskins was not originally a slur, but that’s the way it developed and that’s what it means to Native Americans now.

With that name, you know, I think for a lot of Natives it has always been an issue. Kind of going back to the “old school” Natives who never really thought about it back then. For them, it was a way of - and I say this because I have talked to a lot of different Natives and have a lot of different viewpoints on it, so I understand where they’re coming from a little - and because a lot of them feel the term redskins is just a way to have us being represented in the mainstream. It’s like we’re not forgotten. Because a lot of people do think that without the redskins name that we’re going to fade from existence somehow. And, that’s just not true. Because now we have natives who are actually professional athletes.

Connotations of pride...

Well, I kind of laugh. I want to say show me one good thing that’s come from the name. Show me something positive that has come from the use of the name because when you’re looking at it from a Native perspective, if you go to a game and see people mocking your culture, you know, wearing the headdresses, just kind of mocking the whole thing. It promotes mockery of our culture and our people and it’s dehumanizing. Like, there’s no pride in this. I mean, when you go to the game and you see these people dressed up, that’s not pride. That’s not a way of honoring Native Americans. That’s a way of mocking Native Americans. Even if you don’t understand that, that’s what it’s doing and that’s what it’s promoting. 

When did this become an issue...

I grew up in a football-fanatic family. And, my brothers and my dad are actually Redskins fans. And, one of my brothers is a fan of the Chiefs. And, that’s kind of where I had the ideology coming in of “It’s a term of pride; it’s representing Natives and we should just be proud they’re using Native mascots.” And it’s like, no, because from my perspective whether people realize it or not, from the mainstream, they don’t have to deal with issues that we do. They don’t see the other side; they don’t see the effect that it has on Native American people. There’s been psychological studies that have shown that the use of Native mascots affects the way we view ourselves as Native people. You know, it lowers our self esteem and can cause trouble with your confidence. And, on the flip side of that, it actually raises self confidence and feelings of self worth in non-Natives.

That’s one of the reasons that I feel is such a big part of this is that people do feel good because, by supporting the Redskins, maybe they do see that as a way of supporting Native Americans. And, you know, I guess it’s kind of like, maybe colonization wasn’t so bad, maybe the genocide of Native people wasn’t that bad as long as we support the Redskins or the Indians or whatever. And, that’s kind of like how the use of the mascots and the use of terms like Redskins, or using the Indians as a team name, that’s kind of how that came in to try and correct things a little bit.

Positive Native mascot usage...

With the Seminoles, it’s a Native mascot. And, while the tribes there in Florida did approve the use of the name, they’re not the only Seminole nation. There are other Seminole nations, like here in Oklahoma we have a Seminole nation here and they did not sign off on this. And, you know, a lot of it is it kind of goes back to how people view it. They want their name out there, almost like marketing. Like, even though, I know there’s not going to be a total 100 percent “everybody is against it” there’s always going to be clinging on to the old thought process of “Oh, this brings pride, this is keeping us in the mainstream, this is keeping us in people’s thoughts” but it’s not the way it is and it does have a negative effect on the way indigenous people are viewed and how they are treated and the way that our issues are viewed and treated. That’s one of the big things with here is they say you have bigger issues and I always find that funny because the only time those “bigger issues” are a concern to anybody else outside of the Native community is when it’s messing with their football. 

Goal... 

Personally, I would love to see the name changed. I would love to see the elimination of all Native mascots in general. Like I said, it’s dehumanizing and it’s 2014. You know, even from a Native perspective, those who think that we should take pride and we need to be represented, you know, honestly I feel like the athletes that we have in professional sports deserve to be honored and respected for who they are as people and who they are as actual Native Americans and not have to contend with the Native mascots and not look into the stands and see people mocking their people and their culture.

* * *

All that and much, much more is included in my interviews with Mike and Johnnie. Check it out and let me know what you think. You can jump into the conversation here on the blog, on Facebook, or Twitter.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Episode 23: Washington Redskins [preview]

I have been beset by some technical difficulties the last few days and as such episode 23 of the podcast is going up a little late. "Chris, how difficult is it to upload a video to YouTube?" Leave me alone. Anyway, it's going up late. With that said...

Episode 23 of the "Communication Breakdown" podcast is a look at the controversy surrounding the Washington Redskins nickname. There are two sides to this issue, people who believe that the name is a tribute to Native American culture and the other side who believes it is a racial slur and should be changed. You can guess who is on each side - mostly sports fans love the name and parts of the Native American community don't like it.

I have actually had the idea to do this podcast for over a year, even before I had a podcast. Like I've mentioned, the podcast had been an idea in my head for a long time before I actually did it. I'm a nerd and keep a running list of ideas in the notes section of my phone. Either stuff I can write or discuss in some way. When I started the podcast, I thought "I can talk about this & this & this" and the Redskins name was one of the initial issues.

With that, the issue was finding somebody who could effectively speak about the issue and come across as credible. So, as other issues and topics came up, the Redskins podcast got pushed to the background. A few weeks back, I started thinking about it again. Then, as it does periodically, the Redskins name issue comes up again as a news topic. That has happened recently. I was watching the issue get talked about on SportsCenter and I thought, "Now it's topical, I need to jump on this."

My idea was a debate. But, not a debate since those suck. It's never a discussion of the issues, since it just turns into people getting mad at each other and arguing. I had the idea to do two interviews on the subject - one from each side and play them back-to-back in the same podcast. That way, you could listen to both sides and make your own conclusion.

Right away, I knew who I wanted to talk to on the pro-Redskins side. I've known Mike Stanton since 2005 or 2006 from Concord University. He was a sports writer on Concord's newspaper staff when I was the Editor-in-Chief. And the year after I left the staff, he became the Sports Editor. He is a huge Redskins fan and I knew he would be down. A simple Facebook message later and he was in. Now, I just needed to find the other side.

I have connected with an older Native American woman from Princeton on Twitter over the last couple years. I had read tweets from her around football seasons where she did point out her anger at the Redskins name. I sent her a message asking for her email address and I sent her an outline of what I wanted to talk about and if she would be interested.

She told me that she didn't feel as though she was a credible expert to speak on the subject, as she said it made her so angry she didn't feel like she would be able formulate any good points. She had a lot more in her email and I asked her if I could read some on the podcast. I ultimately didn't go that route, but I'll share something she sent to me on the subject:
"This is not just some abstract issue with me. I know a lot of people are wanting to know why we are just now making a stink about it. Truth is, we have been fighting against this for years, but are just now getting some traction. Social media and the internet have finally allowed us to tell our side of the story. We are tired of it, we are mad as hell, and we aren't going away."
She directed me to a twitter account called @ImNotYourMascot. I checked out their account and wanted to see if I could talk to somebody from their organization. It's sometimes hard to explain these things in 140 characters, so I saw that they had a Facebook account as well. I sent them a Facebook message and waited for a response. Two days passed and I didn't get one. I then sent them a tweet in the morning and didn't hear anything. I tweeted them again that night and they responded the next morning with a list of 4 or 5 people they said I should speak with.

I looked through the list and tried to find the one that I thought seemed similar to Mike. I didn't want it to be like "There was 29-year-old recent college graduate Mike, now here's 50-year-old CEO" or whatever. I went through and found a woman named Johnnie Jae. I emailed her and we set it up.

When you listen to the podcast, Mike goes first and then we hear from Johnnie. Below are a couple quotes from the two of them on this subject.

* * *

Mike Stanton: I think the main reason there’s a controversy is because we’re in a place of overblown political correctness where people just look for something to be offended by. With the Redskins name, it comes up every so often, but it also usually comes up when the team has success. Whereas, usually when they’re struggling and out of the media’s eye, you never really hear anything. I think you’re hearing it a lot more because more people in higher influence, like for example, Kerry Reed, President Obama, have jumped into the controversy saying it’s offensive. The thing about them is, they might be saying it’s offensive but they might not know the background of it. They’re just saying it’s offensive because we’re going off of a few Indian tribes who are saying it’s offensive and not going over the whole landscape where the whole majority do not find it as an offensive term.

Johnnie Jae: I crack up, because the term PC has been thrown around a lot with this issue. It’s not being politically correct. I really wish that term was erased from history, because what it is now is it’s just another way to marginalize people. It’s just another way to silence their voices or to kind of dismiss their concerns. My favorite is when they call us liberal. Right now, the way they throw the term around, Native Americans have a new name and that is Liberal.

* * *

Mike: To me, it means pride and all that good stuff and tradition. It’s essentially an old Indian word, with the media right now, you’d almost think it was a racial term brought forth by a white man. But, it’s actually an old Indian word. Basically, you know how you have war paint and all that. With Indians, they would actually have this paint, I forget what kind of berry it came from, but it was actually like an insect repellent that they would use and it would make their skin look red. That’s how redskin came about that way. It wasn’t a derogatory term about a skin color or anything. It was basically the way the skin looked after getting a little bit of food coloring from the berries and stuff that way.


There are some, but I think some are offended by it to be offended by it, if that makes any sense. You also have a majority of Indian tribes who love the name and have even come forth saying that they find it offensive if they change the name. They find it as pride and tradition, and you have a lot of Indian reservations that actually have high school nicknames as the Redskins. You have a lot of Indian tribes who find the name to be a positive.

Johnnie: I want to say show me one good thing that’s come from the name. Show me something positive that has come from the use of the name because when you’re looking at it from a Native perspective, if you go to a game and see people mocking your culture, you know, wearing the headdresses, just kind of mocking the whole thing. It promotes mockery of our culture and our people and it’s dehumanizing. Like, there’s no pride in this. I mean, when you go to the game and you see these people dressed up, that’s not pride. That’s not a way of honoring Native Americans. That’s a way of mocking Native Americans. Even if you don’t understand that, that’s what it’s doing and that’s what it’s promoting.

* * *

All that and more is included in the podcast. Both Mike and Johnnie get about half an hour to discuss their side of the issue, so the podcast clocks in around one hour and 7 minutes I believe. I'll have a more complete transcript when everything goes up and is official.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to let me know either here or Facebook or wherever you want to talk to me at.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Goodbye, I'm Going Home



I love sad music. It's so much more genuine to say "I'm miserable" than to be cheerful and happy. Because people fake happiness all the time and you never know when somebody is being honest. Nobody pretends to be unhappy and sad.

I feel like my misery drives me more than happiness does. I don't look around and go "I'm pretty happy, let's keep working to get life better and better." No, I look around and say "This fucking sucks, let's try and make my life the opposite of this."

I think people mistake my unhappiness for like a terminal unhappiness. I'm cheerful at times, but I'm also unhappy at times. The last couple years, the bad has definitely outweighed the good, but the reason I keep plugging along is because I know that won't always be the case. Like I said in a recent podcast, the appropriately titled "Worst Summer Ever," that one day when I look back at my successful life and write my autobiography, this will be the part where I go "It fucking sucked and I was really unhappy, but then it got better."

I'm in the valley, just gotta work my way up to the top of the mountain.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Book Notes: Dreaming up a story

If you haven't heard yet, I published my first book back in December. Of course you know, because I haven't stopped talking about it. "B-Sides" is not the only book I will ever write. I called that book "volume 01" because I feel like in a couple years I could probably release another book of similar unfinished/unprinted stories.

I have five potential book ideas in my head. Three are non-fiction, two are fiction. One non-fiction piece will likely be book number two. I have nearly 10,000 words written for that piece. Check out my Facebook cover photo, as it is printed out pages of that book. The second non-fiction book is an idea that I could easily make work; the problem is that it would mostly be made up of interviews with other people and I would just have to get that all scheduled out. The third non-fiction book is just an idea I have written on a sheet of paper.

One of the fiction pieces will likely wind up just being a short story (and probably released in B-Sides, volume 02). I have a general idea of it, I just need to write it out. The other one is shaping up to be a novel. 

I don't really write a lot of fiction. There is one fiction piece included in "B-Sides." It's called "Mr. H" and is a short story about an old man. People have told me it was kind of dark. I've been looking for another excerpt from volume 01 to post in the blog, I might do that one eventually.

I had an idea about a year ago for an introduction for a story about a slacker guy. I wrote it and realized I had no story to go with it. It was just a couple pages setting up this guy as a character. After that, he had nothing to do, so I did nothing with it.

When I sleep, I have realistic, vivid dreams. It's nothing crazy or outlandish. I dream about real things that could happen to real people. Sometimes I will wake up and have to convince myself that the dream didn't really happen. Usually, I'll say or do something and all my friends will hate me. That's the kind of nightmare I have. I wake up feeling like shit until I tell myself it wasn't real.

I had a dream a few days back and when I woke up I thought to myself, "That would be a good story." I fell back asleep and when I woke up later I couldn't remember anything past the basic details. I realized I didn't want that to happen again, so I decided to sleep with a notebook beside me. When I had a dream and woke up, I would then write my dream down and I would have it.

After I did that the next time, I realized that this guy from my dream could be the slacker character I abandoned last year. Now I have a beginning of the story. I just need to fill in the rest.

I've done this three times now, writing down my dreams, as you'll see from the picture below. My handwriting is normally passable to very good, but not when you're groggy. In fact, you can see the different levels of grogginess, as part 01 is big and sloppy, part 02 is small and sloppy, and part 03 looks like normal bad handwriting.

Take a look and then I'll explain it.


The basic plot of the novel now looks like some young journalist, either an intern or rookie starting out. There is some sort of corruption or big story that some outside force - maybe a crooked journalist on the staff - is trying to cover up. The protagonist - who, according to my notes is named Chris - is going to do the right thing. The way he does the right thing is to do the "write thing." See what I did there?

Anyway... I only understand about half of my notes. I will try to translate them for you here.

Part 01: Scene in office intern wants it --> other guy is leaving. He sets it up; other person is half listening. "He's leaving." Jeremy asks Chris if he is happy. If he wants it. Asks if he's experimented with salad dressing.

This is a big scene around the beginning when this Chris guy explains how badly he wants this break. Read into any real life parallels all you want. It's from my subconscious. I guess the guy that Chris is talking to isn't really paying attention to him, kind of dismissing him.

Then he gives Chris this wisdom about life. The thing about salad dressing is some sort of analogy about life. Do you live the same boring life every day? Do you order the same boring salad every day for lunch? And then it's going to wake something up in Chris' head. It will change how he thinks and goes about whatever he's going about. As a joke, a few pages later he'll probably order a different salad for lunch.

Part 02: Scene in bookstore exploring. "They're just books" "Don't you ever talk like that." like he has velcro on his shirt.

This would be an early scene between Chris and his lady friend interest. Not sure which one is saying what. From a personal standpoint, I would be offended if somebody said that about a bookstore. But for this story, it would probably be better if she's the nerdy, artsy type of girl who brings this guy to a bookstore. Velcro on the shirt? No idea.

Part 03: pizza place --> recognized girl, sort of. Asked about the pizza she ordered --> half b. olive, half mushroom for her & her roommate. His two favorite toppings. She took a phone call he had to leave --> wrote his phone number on a napkin & put it in her box

I was a little more lucid for that part, as I actually wrote in the lines on the page. Obviously, that would be the first encounter with the love interest. And then maybe they would start talking and they would go to the bookstore? The possibilities are endless.

That's where we're at now. I just have to figure out what the drama of the story is. Maybe the girl is involved. Have to flesh out the characters and add some new ones. And probably change the lead character's name - Chris is kind of a dumb name.

I'll keep dreaming and see if I can come up with anything else. And maybe I'll even work on it when I'm awake.

Cheap plug: Click here to order "B-Sides: rarities and unreleased works, vol. 01"

Another cheap plug: Click here to listen to episode 07 of my podcast, where I talk about the book.