What’s Your Caption: I’m Back

I’ve been crazy busy writing forMore Than a Fan and as a part of theYahoo! Sports Feature Contributor program, but I haven’t made any time to get back to writing for the sake of writing. I really enjoyed doing the Big 50 blog project and riffing about twitter trending topics, so I’m going to find a way to set aside a few minutes here and there to get some of those things done again.

With that, I’ll leave you with my favorite soup. As always, leave your captions in the comments. I’ll tweet the best of them!

I'll have the top shelf whiskey stew, please. Double. On the rocks.

I’ll have the top shelf whiskey stew, please. Double. On the rocks.


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The Big Fifty: My Dinner Party

I struggle when I don’t write. I don’t mean my writing over at More Than A Fan, but creative writing. Don’t get me wrong, there are moments while I’m putting together something for MTAF that you’ll find me agonizing on the best way to finish a sentence, but that writing is more structured, more goal oriented. This writing is more about just clearing my head. Not everything is introspective or artsy, but all of it writing just to write. That’s what I need. I need to find an idea and hammer away at it for exercise, so I decided to resurrect the Big Fifty. I’ve completely scrapped the idea of going in order and I won’t be answering just the questions from the list, but damnit, I’m going to write something. (Quick shout to Demanding Joy for having this list in the first place. If you really want to try a blog project, this is a good one to try)

The question at the very bottom of your list asks who you would want at your dream dinner party. Living or dead, no rules, just pick a group and go.

Ummm… John Lennon, Jim Morrison, a handful of world leaders and Jesus?

Or wait.

John F. Kennedy, Ghandi, Brad Pitt and Jesus?

You got me, maybe I’m poking fun at stereotypical lists. That’s because I’ve never thought of a list like this, or if I have, I was a little kid without enough understanding of the world to comprehend the depth of the question. This isn’t about famous or talented or rich people, although that doesn’t mean your guests can’t be those things, this is about finding people that could affect change in your life in only one dinner’s time. After a long time thinking about this, I think I’ve got my dinner party narrowed down to a workable list.

The first two people at the table would be Stephen King and Robert B. Parker.

I know that at times it seems cliche to be a giant Stephen King fan, but I always have been. King novels are the first stories that I ever remember reading. Not the first stories I ever read, but the first stories that I can actually remember my reactions while I was taking them in. I remember being scared, nervous and anxious. I remember sitting up over the pages as the stories got intense, or physically relaxing at calm times for the characters. That’s power, and while I won’t be able to steal that ability by osmosis, I’d like to spend some time in real conversation with a man you wields that power so effectively.

Robert B. Parker pens the Spenser and Jesse Stone series of novels, among various other non-fiction projects, and writes in the style and flow that I think I have written in during the few times that I’ve tried my pen at long prose. Not that I write as well as he does, just that I aim for the same wit and pacing. I would ask him how he organizes his thoughts and builds his stories. Not only do I think his advice and intuition could benefit my personal goals, I also think that the personality he puts forth in his work would make him a pretty entertaining guy to have for some post dinner drinks.

The third person at my table is Bill Simmons. Simmons is an ESPN guy who writes, tweets, podcasts, hosts TV shows and recently launched Grantland.com. He’s insanely popular currently, but does still rub some people the wrong way. The reason that I want him there is pretty simple; my current work at More Than A Fan, and all the other opportunities that I’ve been blessed with since I started writing for Lisa back on the sports website that shall not be named wouldn’t be around if it wasn’t for reading his articles and being inspired. Grant it, Simmons isn’t inspiring in some “Oh my God, what a powerful, life changing artist he is” kind of way, but just that his columns always found a way onto my favorite list. He tells me things and he makes me laugh, usually at the same time. That’s what I want for the people who read what I write. I want them to have a good time and learn something. Good writers are like teachers, you know something when you’re done that you didn’t know before, and good teachers are never boring.

Also, I think I could turn a dinner with Bill Simmons into a friendship, and honestly, being buddies with him wouldn’t hurt my career goals.

My fourth guest would be Dennis Manoloff, a veteran Plain Dealer sportswriter. (Quick note: Yes, he’s on twitter, and yes he’s local to me. I’m not linking him or shouting him or begging him. But if you do, I’m won’t bomb your house or anything.) Anyway, I choose him because he knows what its like in the current Cleveland sports market. There are a thousand guys and girls in town who have the same goals that I have, many of them better qualified, and I think Dennis could help point me towards the things that I would need to do to achieve my goals. He wouldn’t be there in the same capacity as King, Parker or Simmons, but as an honest critic for my work. And if he says that I should stick to my day, he’s getting the check.

Everyone seeks peace, and I think its pretty clear that my peace is found by writing. Whether I’m sifting through baseball-reference.com building a case for Manny Ramirez to be in Cooperstown or making fun of the twitter trending topics, I always feel better trying to make my literary voice both a worthwhile experience and a viable way to make my living. The old saying is work to live not live to work, and if writing was my, I’d be set. The last invite to dinner is different.

Sitting at my dinner table would be my uncle. I’ve never met either man, but for two very different reasons. My uncle was taken from my family before I was born during a lawless, chaotic night on a Florida Seminole Indian Reservation. That’s close to the extent of what I know, but that’s really enough. Details aren’t important at this point, anyway. Everyone who knew him and knows me have all said that we were alike. Thoughts, mannerisms, looks, everything. I would like to talk to the man that he would have become, and be able to pass on a fitting goodbye to my mom, his two other sisters and my grandparents.

And, hey, maybe he’d have some kind of supernatural, beyond the grave fix on lottery numbers. Probably not, but it wouldn’t hurt to ask.


Filed under The Big 50

Amy Winehouse and Oslo, Norway in More Than 140 Characters

One of the top “Headlines We All Saw Coming but Didn’t Want to Read” list happened Saturday when Amy Winehouse was found dead in London. She was undoubtedly unhealthy and irresponsible, but a father having to bury his 27 year old daughter is the kind of thing that can bring a tear to the most hardened eye.

The death being most likely drug related is both expected and irrelevant in the eyes of her friends and family. They love her, she’s gone.

One thing about the public reaction to her death bothers me a little bit. Its not the rehab jokes or some people’s “she had it coming” attitude. Frankly, while I sympathize with her family, the lifestyle she chose is what killed her. What bothers me is how some fans have compared her to the other legendary musicians that died at 27 years old.

The 27 Club is the name that refers to Brian Jones(founder and original guitarist of The Rolling Stones), Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain. Amy Winehouse was talented and popular, but her legacy does not belong on the same list as this group. Winehouse was talented and troubled, but that’s all. The history of music cannot be told without the names and legacies of the 27 Club. There should be greater restriction to membership than just death at a certain age.


Two days after a terrorist bombing of a public building and a shooting spree in Oslo, Norway, authorities have a single suspect in custody. I don’t know all the details, nor am I actively researching every nook and cranny of the web to uncover them, I only mention it to pass along an interesting idea.

Though police have not identified the suspect, local television and newspaper reports have identified the man in custody as 32-year-old Anders Behring Breivik. His identity is tied to a 1,500 page manifesto released the same day as the attacks. That document rallies against increasing Muslim population in Europe, and calls for a European civil war to overthrow governments, end multiculturalism and execute “cultural Marxists.”

That sounds an awful lot like what Muslim extremists want, also. My point is that Muslims aren’t evil or crazy or disruptive or violent people, evil, crazy, disruptive and violent people are.

Police Blotter of the Week:

July 12 – Someone contacted the police with questions about being in a cemetery while hunting for paranormal activity.

I can only hope the police responded that they’d get make believe arrested and fictionally held in a jail cell until the morning.

Find me on twitter at @Railbirdj and check me out at More Than A Fan.

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Social Media is Turning Us Into Assholes

From facebook to Twitter to Google+, social media is teaching us a lesson about ourselves. The unfortunate lesson is that we are assholes.

Now, not YOU, and hopefully not me a lot of the time, but us.

I don’t love pro wrestling, but when I’m scrolling through my time line and I see someone calling pro wrestling fans “single digit IQ retards”, it sort of pisses me off. I used to watch the WWE (it was the WWF back then), and I’ve got a fancy piece of paper that says my IQ is well into the triple digits.
I also get a little agitated when angry fans tweet nasty things to athletes after a mistake in a game. Hey, I tweet and write about athletes all the time, but you won’t ever hear me calling one of them a “worthless bag of shit who should jump off a bridge before his next start”. Yes, its true I once asked Chris Perez if he could change his Song of the Day to Don’t Pitch to Jose Bautista and he called me a jackass, but I think we both understood that was a bit of innocent fun. And, really, don’t pitch to Jose Bautista.

Littered among the many great things the social media has been a part of in my life are the realities that so many people are arrogant, self absorbed bastards who can’t make a point without putting another group of people down.

Isn’t it possible to say that you’re not a fan of Glee because the acting is subpar and the story lines are impossibly mediocre without the line “Glee fans are gay”?

I don’t know, maybe I’m rambling, but I have a feeling that if aliens landed on this planet and spent a couple hours on twitter, they’d take the secret of truly sustainable power back home and never come back. And its mostly because too many of us assholes think that we’re always right and anyone who has a different clothing style, sexual preference, sports team, entertainment choice, coffee shop preference, hairstyle, blog service, income level or political party isn’t worth the air they breath and needs to be told how wrong they are.

I do crossword puzzles, love live theater and watch Jersey Shore. We’re all adults here, deal with it.


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