An Interview with Tom Brady’s Jersey

As a sports journalist, I have had some strange requests for interviews. I rarely turn down a legitimate request and the one I received on Saturday nearly blew my mind. After the disappointment I felt over the New England Patriots’ win of Super Bowl LI, the last thing I wanted to be reminded of was Tom Brady’s smug face. I realize that as an NFL journalist, I am really not supposed to show bias, but on my personal blog I can do just that and intended to.

Let me preface this interview. First, everyone that is familiar with the National Football League must, by now, be acquainted with the “story” that has been running the news wire that Brady had his Super Bowl jersey “stolen” from him. First, it was just a missing jersey. Then the rumors the Federal Bureau of Investigations was getting involved surfaced. Then allegations that the equipment manager had stored it and the missing jersey was found.

The latest news: Brady himself has created a “suspect board” that lays out who he believes may have taken possession of his jersey.

Then…the strange interview request…FROM Tom’s jersey!

Here, fans, is the full transcript, including the open request from the jersey itself!

Tom Brady’s Jersey (Aka The Jersey): Thank you for having me, Ms. Rivers. I just wanted to say that I am thoroughly fed up with Tom pretending that he has no idea where I am. His Instagram post is just ridiculous. Look for yourself.

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First off, there is no way a freaking fictional halfling like Golem got his fingers on me. That guy can’t even hang onto his “precious”, so spare me the dramatics. Edelman? Edelman? The goofy dwarf could barely get his ego back to Earth in time to accomplish such a feat as “stealing” me from your locker. Tom, you may as well give it up. After Deflategate and Spygate, even I know that you are desperate to show off to Roger Goodell. I am all for sticking it to the Commissioner, but telling people I am lost is…well…frankly just embarrassing.

Rivers: Mr. Jersey, why are you so upset? Could Tom not have simply misplaced you and be unaware of your location due to the post-game excitement? After all, he had just executed an incredible comeback for a win.

The Jersey: Ms. Rivers, please. You are starting to sound like one of those Yinzers from Pittsburgh. Tom didn’t do any such thing as misplace me. The man is more interested in using the golden key to lock himself in a secret room to throw his body on a Beautyrest Black than keep an eye on my location. He is grossly negligent.

Rivers: So, am I to assume that there is more than a little hostility between yourself and Tom at this point?

The Jersey: (clearing his throat) Ms. Rivers, the first person that Tom should blame if I am not safely in his immediate surroundings is himself. He lets Giselle waltz in and just run the show like she’s a supermodel and then all that nonsense in the locker room. Bill was using words I thought only Mike Tomlin let fly. Ha, ha. Yeah. Obviously that isn’t the case. News flash back to Julian.

Rivers: You actually sound very bitter.

The Jersey: Well, look at this picture of me. Would you not be bitter??

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For heavens sake, I am ON A WIRE HANGER!!!!!! And Tom played the entire game with the tag still stuck to my sleeve. He’s not Minnie Pearl. Get a grip, golden boy!

Rivers: Is there something you’d really like to tell Mr. Brady?

The Jersey: Yes, I want to share my open letter to Tom and thank you for the open forum.

(The letter)

Tom, you may be the greatest quarterback and people like Aaron Rodgers who plays for a team with an unfortunate name in a city that smells of Limburger and Cheddar may call you a G.O.A.T.  I know what that acronym really means. It means that you resent anything that drapes your body during a victory that is more colorful, flashy and beautiful than yourself.

If you come back down from your elevated heights, I will use my real Twitter account to send you clues on a daily basis to help you track me down. All $500,000 and climbing of my worthiness. But, should you refuse to follow the clues…I will have no choice but to offer myself to the nearest Falcons fan for a quick, burning death in a bar-b-que grill while we recreate the burning of Atlanta.

Continue to ignore me. Continue to leave me in the cold and dark while you play games with the media and I will disown you.

Mark my words, Tom. I am no mere piece of cloth sewn with double stitching adorning your name upon my backside.

(Sudden end of interview as The Jersey exited the studio)

The Jersey may be interested to know that Mr. Brady has filed a police report, at least, to indicate how absolutely serious he is about retrieving the garment. Whether Brady, who used Instagram but has no Twitter account, will follow the clues remains to be seen. The only option for NFL fans is to continue to watch the drama unfold on social media.

Here is the link to The Jersey’s Twitter account

Poll question (please answer in the comments field)

Will Tom Brady follow the clues to find The Jersey or not? A: No B: Yes

As always, we’ll keep you informed.

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Remembering Hope, Faith in the Face of Tragedy

 

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There are very few moments in my life that have affected me as deeply and personally as the tragedies that occurred on September 11, 2001, or changed my life so profoundly.  The memories of that day are haunting: reminders of grief and pain, but also ones of fervent optimism.  In the face of fear, as ideals that had long been seen as impenetrable were brought to their knees, hope remained.  It was fragile, but it helped many to have the courage and wisdom to turn their eyes, not on the horror around them, but on that which gave them the faith to continue.

Our world has long been under assault by those who devalue the life and value of human beings, both man and woman.  All too often, we – as part of humanity – feel the strain and pull, especially during times of suffering.  I have found times in my own life where I have asked the question, “Where is my God?  Where is my salvation and rescue?”  It has been in the quiet of my own thoughts, in the ache of my own heart, but I know from the testimonials of others that I am not alone. Our world is filled with people looking for something that can reaffirm their faith – in God, in a higher power, in humanity – and restore the value of their life and existence in their minds and hearts.

Wherever we may be in our individuals lives, there are times when we are challenged and struggle. Those trials are different for each of us, yet common to us all.  They are a part of this mortal world and it is not uncommon to lose our hope and faith in the face of paths unclear, of events so tragic that we are consumed by fear and pain.  Feelings of isolation – even abandonment – can creep into our lives and worry that we walk this life alone causes fear to replace what has given us strength.

I am not a religious leader, an authority on theology or expert in philosophy.  I am a merely a person – with wants, needs, desires, emotions and longs for something to hold onto in times that hope is tested.  I am a person of faith.  My faith rests in God.  You may not share that faith, but I hope that my message is of worth in helping you in some small way.

On September 11, 2001, my very core was shaken.  Deeply and vigorously.  I, like so many, watched in horror and with righteous indignation at the depth of evil being illustrated and was unable to look away.  I felt real terror.  It gripped me; held me by the shoulders and rattled me.

Fifteen years later, I can not erase the images from my mind or the pain from my soul.  I am racked with emotion and cannot prevent the tears from filling my eyes as I watch memorial videos, see photographs of people in agony reaching out to others for comfort and assistance.  I can say, however, that fifteen years after an event that changed humanity profoundly, I was able to carry on because I was able to tap into a source of strength – hope and faith in a better world – through the love, patience and guidance of God in my life.  I don’t want to forget the events of that day because they have helped me to refocus, in times of trial and despair, on something much greater than myself.

Focus on the concrete, the tangible, that which I can hold and explain, did not give me what I needed.  Life is so often full of messages that it is what we have – external, material items – that define us and make us who we are.  Unfortunately, when the concrete crumbles, the structures are no longer tangible, the only thing to hold is rubble and there is no explanation, there is little left to pin hope to, little left to use to define ourselves.  What do we do when the towers tumble?  What do we do when life, as we knew it, is in pieces?  For me, I found the answer in what can only be hoped for, is intangible and unseen: faith.

I turned to prayer and I turned to the word of God (scripture).  “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philip. 4:7).  It helped remind me that hope and faith were accessible to me; that I’d never truly be alone even if I did not understand life or what happens to and around me.  That, in my times of sorrow and heartache, my heart and mind could find peace through my Savior and my God.

On this Sunday, the 15th anniversary of an earthly tragedy, I reach out to you – to others – with a message of love.  May you find the peace you seek.  May your memories of horrors past be less painful.  May you see that there is hope in the rubble of tragedy.  And, may you find the faith to keep moving forward, opening your heart to the true value of your own life and the lives of others.

Let us never forget – but let us also remember what can be and not just what was.

Uncertain Blogoshere: When writers go ‘rogue’ in regard to ethics

wp-1464502796053.jpgThere used to be a standard in how professional journalists presented ‘news’ to the public, but as blogging became more popular, what was a long-held belief in ethical behavior quickly altered with some writers going rogue.

With the advent of social media, it has become commonplace to throw truthfulness and integrity into the trash receptacle while favoring an often seedy form of dissemination via opinion-favoring over presentation of verifiable facts.

Ethics in media was once a professional code, varying on a theme of accuracy, objectivity, impartiality and accountability to the public.  Through acquisition of newsworthy information, dissemination publicly included an overriding idea that a limitation of harm was a key principle in presentation.

A recent event illustrated just how far from those values modern media – specifically sports reporting – has gotten.

A blogger/sports writer listened to a radio broadcast presented to the general public.  Although he did not legally own any rights to the broadcast, or opinions contained therein, he was interested in the ‘scoop’ – failing to see that any words taken could not and should not be considered his own or protected as such.  Unfortunately, the frequency with which he has practiced presenting material in such a manner has led to cries of foul play. His perpetual fabrication of the actual truth has led other writers who cover the same sport to see him as an unethical man and have fallen victim to his practice of calling the ideas and words of others his own as he shared the information with the public.

The fabrication in this recent event was based on the idea that if he typed out statements that were in the broadcast, he had a legal leg to stand on by calling that written material his “transcripts”. Unfortunately, the true legal ownership is retained by the broadcast originator regardless of outside beliefs.

Another sports writer, with access to the same source (a public radio broadcast), used statements in an article he wrote but gave proper attribution to the originator of said broadcast.  He did not credit writer ‘A’, in his article, as the source – and doing so would have been an ethical violation towards the radio program.

With agitation, writer ‘A’ viewed this as “plagiarism” based on his wrong idea that he had created a transcript he had legal protection of.  Upon seeing the article by writer “B”, he became so outraged that he initiated an all too familiar move away from traditional ethical behavior in journalism and took the mantle that has grown out of misplaced self-righteousness via social media’s now blatant practices: false claims of ownership, plagiarism, lack of proper attribution(s), sharing material that is protected under copyrights without consequence and the idea that it is acceptable to publicly attack and/or defame others perceived as ‘wronging’.

Writer “B” was publicly threatened that he had better apologize for plagiarism, or else, and pressured to the point of harassment that many in the legal field agree was egregious and could be a prosecutable offense.  What was worse is the fact that writer “B” is a minor, being ‘trolled’ – a form of online stalking – by an adult; an adult that has no right to an apology and certainly no right to claim he was personally wronged.  He did not own the material and, thus, could not claim protected rights.

Plagiarism is the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own.  While not a crime in itself, it can constitute copyright infringement if the work or idea is protected by copyright law. Plagiarism is an ethical offense, but the burden of proof lay with the claimant of ownership to show that such action was in fact illegal.  Simply claiming perceived plagiarism occurred does not meet the burden of proof.

Regardless, writer “B” issued a public apology and retracted his article in order to take the moral high ground and preserve his integrity.  When the apology did not remain accessible to the public anymore (and there is no true timetable on how long an apology must be made), writer “A” proceeded to once again abuse writer “B” and attempt to discredit him based on a perceived wrong only.

Interestingly enough, there is strong argument that writer ‘A’ was, in fact, committing plagiarism himself.

Whether the issue truly been resolved remains to be seen, however it has placed a spotlight on how ethical behavior has entered a gray zone in the modern digital era.

It also highlighted the ugly practice of public shaming and assaultive statements that have no place in the world of professional writing, social media – or anywhere else, for that matter.

In a new world where blogging and true journalism overlap, it is easy to see that there is plenty of uncertainty on ethical conduct and practices.

Follow up:

What might you do if faced with such a situation?  Has this ever happened to you?  Please comment below.

Note:

Steve Buttry, who has more than 40 years’ experience in the news business as a reporter, editor and educator, offered a fantastic editorial on the changing tides in journalistic ethics.  In the interview with Kyle James of onMedia, Buttry gives examples of both good and bad deviations from traditional ethics in journalism.

 

Preparing to edit Blastzone Magazine, Issue 2

In April, I had the honor of editing Volume 1, Issue 1 of Blastzone Magazine and using my publishing company, Sabretooth MicroPress to do so.  The first issue was a success and I have been asked to edit Issue 2.  I am truly looking forward to it.

Issue 1 is available free for download here.

We have several authors lined up that will be including material, but there is still time to submit to be included. If you are interested, please see the guidelines.

The deadline for submissions (to be included in the June/July issue is May 28, 2016).  Material can be sent to the eBook Blasters group at their site.

Readers, is there a favorite author you’d like to see interviewed?  If you do, please leave a comment and I will try to set that up.

Looking forward to another fun issue.

Quo Vadis – Where are YOU going?

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Quo Vadis?  It’s a Latin phrase that may or may not be familiar.  It’s meaning: Where are you going?

This is a question I have asked myself a lot over the course of my life.  When there are important decisions to be made, I try to visualize each path that may be presented to me.  There have been plenty of times when there are several roads that lay ahead that would lead me on positive journeys.  There have been bumpy, broken paths that offered both an opportunity for success and risk.

The first time I heard this phrase, it was spoken by a spiritual leader (Bradley Foster).  He often spoke about having a vision of life; a personal ideology rooted both in investigation, knowledge, personal experience and foresight.  It never focused on the past, but on what lay ahead.

In the apocryphal Acts of Peter (Vercelli Acts XXXV), Peter – ‘The Rock’ and disciple of Christ – is fleeing Jerusalem and the events of Jesus’ crucifixion. Peter is trying to escape his past.  He meets the risen Lord and asks (in the Latin translation), “Quo Vadis?”.  The answer was that Jesus was returning to Jerusalem, giving Peter the courage to evaluate his personal mission: continuing his ministry.

The words and what they suggested helped guide me in both times of trouble and happiness.  “Quo Vadis” helped me form my personal motto: Just keep moving.

Writing has always been a form of release for me, but it has been motivated by a strong desire to keep my focus on what matters most to me and a desire to keep moving forward despite my past experiences.

Many writers speak of catharsis (from Greek κάθαρσις katharsis meaning “purification” or “cleansing”) and how the act of creating textual expression both purifies and purges emotion through art.  A metaphor, catharsis can be an extreme change in emotion that results in restoration and renewal; a way forward after distress, frustration, fear or even tragedy.  It is a force that focuses their vision on what lay ahead.

Writing, for some is a natural gift.  Others struggle to produce a final draft while battling doubts, insecurities and even fear of failure.  Any writer can tell you that the sharing of pieces of their souls – and written words are a piece of the author – can be daunting with the promise of both reward and potential letdown.

I have written the beginning of so many stories outside of journalism pieces that called for internal fortitude and the hope of some valuable substance.  Most were never shared.  I lost the vision of their potential and possibilities.

Recently, I reconnected with Brad’s wife, Sharol, on social media after two decades of no communication.  This chance encounter reminded me of two things: first, that life has moved on and second, that the inspiring phrase, “Quo Vadis”, had become a driving force in nearly every pursuit in my life.

I admittedly do not always have a plan and even the best plans have not met my expectations.  I believe part of the message of this simple Latin question was this: how will I draw strength from mistakes or disappointment to keep my eyes scanning the horizon instead of locking onto obstacles in my path.  Can I keep moving?

I love a challenge and 80 percent of my writing has not always produced earth-shattering insights that moved others or entertained.  It has involved great risk. But, I have discovered it has helped me navigate rough terrain in order to grow.

I ask you, “where are YOU going?” Perhaps you aren’t sure. Maybe you feel uncertain.  I encourage you to consider the simple message to just keep moving. Keep trying, especially you other writers. Put aside bad reviews, doubtful readers, detractors and emotions that may cause you to stall.  Take a chance and one step at a time you will find yourself on a journey.  What you choose to focus on will hold your focus until you look forward to what may be, what could be.  Learn to ask yourself where you are going, and if your current path isn’t where you want to be or thought you’d be, look forward to the roads ahead.  Climb your personal mountains and you may be pleasantly surprised that the journey itself was a great reward.

Dampening the pain of trauma

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Today was a rough one on social media. A lot of topics were being discussed, shared, analyzed and deconstructed. I admit, there are days when social media is completely demoralizing even with the plethora of cute kitten videos.

I have a medical condition that is not easy to explain and definitely difficult to talk about. This condition is so overpowering at times that I feel like every day is a battle. And social media often triggers it in disturbing ways.

I have PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). I went undiagnosed for most of my life due to misconceptions about PTSD itself. Many professionals felt that the condition was simply an excuse, while others believed only those who witnessed tragedy on a battlefield or in war-torn nations uniquely had it. Many medical professionals thought individual symptoms did not equate to one single condition, so they felt the appropriate course of action was to treat each symptom on its own. Even more tried to explain and ‘fit’ those symptoms into a completely different, previously identified condition; often simply labeling them as mental or physical disorders or ailments. And a lot of blame for my misdiagnosis fell squarely on me because I did not know how to explain my pain, my emotions or what happened to me that led up to the “development” or condition itself.

I was embarrassed. I didn’t want people to see me as weak. I didn’t want family or friends (or medical professionals) to think I was making it all up. I didn’t want to talk about the things I had experienced, witnessed and/or survived that broke me. I didn’t want to destroy my family with the truth. I didn’t want to lose friends.

In all the wanting not to do – I ended doing a lot worse in some ways.

I didn’t always tell the whole truth. I hid things, thinking I was protecting others, protecting myself. I got angry. I felt resentment. I didn’t trust other people. I didn’t get my hopes up that I would get close to anyone because I was afraid they’d abandon me, hurt me, turn on me. I was plagued by fear and punished myself. I let myself get out of control, taking risks and inviting danger. I hurt myself. I felt abandoned. Above all, I was beguiled by an overwhelming sense of guilt over things that were not my fault, things I had not done ‘wrong’ in life – my life – in general. I was consumed. I burned with shame, grief and unrelenting hidden pain.

This led to a perpetual cycle of ups and downs. Trying to be happy and put the bad behind me only to be confronted with something that would trigger negatives and send me spiraling back down to rock bottom. Then, I’d get that sense of righteous indignation and claw my way back up, often hiding behind humor.

In an attempt to correct the wrongs I had experienced, I told myself that I was going to spend my life helping others (if I couldn’t help myself) – that when I felt self-centered, I should give, give, give. Right the evils of the world with justice, mercy and love. Sacrifice to give people hope and something to smile about so they could escape their pain.

I worked for a veterinarian, helping animals. I went to college, switched from an art major to sports medicine. Left that school and went to another college to graduate at the top of my class and become an EMT/Medic – a first responder who could be brave for those unable to find bravery. I saved lives. I went on to work in an emergency room, an intensive care unit, a critical care unit and a burn unit. I worked at a youth shelter with troubled teens. I spent just under two years on a volunteer mission to serve people and talk to them about religion, God, hope.

During all those times, I buried my pain so I could help others. I wasn’t a hero – I had no such illusions – I just wanted to help.

When my health got so poor I could no longer participate in those duties, I turned to writing. I started covering sports I loved while my body forced me to have to give up the sports I’d played (the only things that had effectively allowed me to cope and process). Then, I decided to write a fictional story about good vs. evil and human nature hoping it would be inspiring.

The realization that none of what I had been pouring myself into was making a dent in the Godzilla-sized battle of human suffering was like a stick of dynamite going off between my teeth. It was shattering – rocking my world and shred of reality. It was heartbreaking. And, it was relentless in how it slowly ate away at me piece by piece by piece. Until I felt swallowed. Consumed. Irrelevant. Non-existant. Invisible except to PAIN and AGONY who paired up like a WWE tag team – and even if no human being could see me, THEY could. They became sniper, ninja assassins who could evade detection until they’d slithered in and blown every part of me to hell and back.

I re-experience my trauma through intrusive thoughts and memories, recollections, flashbacks and nightmares. This happens several times a week. I range from emotional numbness to excruciating pain that feels like my blood may just flood through my pores or cause my brain to burst. I often avoid places, people and activities that may even remotely remind me of trauma. I am hypervigillant, concerned there may be danger, even if I rationally know I am safe. I have trouble sleeping – it’s feast or famine. I find myself getting irritable over things I normally would just laugh off.

Sometimes negative beliefs become persistent to the point that what I believe and feel about myself are distorted to the point I feel fear, horror, guilt and outright shame. Self-confidence becomes elusive. It becomes troubling when I begin losing interest in participating in even simple activities. And my inability to experience and/or enjoy positive emotions slams the door in my face when what I’d really like to do is throw it wide and be free and happy.

And in my journey to understand myself – desperately hoping anyone might give me a chance and try to understand me – I find I alienate others with zero intention of doing so. And the grief of that realization is almost too much.

I know I am not alone. Millions of peoole suffer in silence every day due to PTSD. It does not discriminate. It affects kids, teens, adults. It haunts people from all walks of life. And I can guarantee that those who face it daily wish it would get lost, never come back.

I didn’t write this because I want sympathy. I wrote this because I realize that, by not acknowledging it, people who know me or want to know me may very well misunderstand why certain statements appear as chastisement. Why an honest compliment may be difficult for me to accept. Why certain topics on social media – death, pain, sorrow, anger, irritation, rudeness, hateful behavior, discrimination, power struggles, controlling statements, abusive comments, self-agrandizement, bragging, tit-for-tats, competition over who has “more” or is “better off” or more “righteous” – trigger those hidden sensors in my PTSD life. When triggered, those sensors send ripples of emotional and physiological pain through me that can last for a long time.

I am not “just oversensitive”.
I am not “just too needy”.

I am damaged, but I think I may have a little bit of worth. Maybe the only worth I really have is just to tell this truth and hope someone can gain something positive from it.

And all I can really ask is that anyone who reads this might be kind when interacting with me and forgive me if my responses are not always funny, warm and fuzzy. In my heart, I only want the best for humanity. It’s what I have always believed would heal – LOVE.

A Little Fuel For My Fire, Dyer Style

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Lately I have been running through a list – I have to keep a book of them, literally – of projects, ideas, tasks and goals that I’d like to accomplish before the end of April rolls around.  Regrettably, I am sure there will be some items that get bumped into June, but I am trying to limit that occurence.

Geoff Dyer, the author of Paris Trance and Yoga For People Who Can’t Be Bothered to Do It, was a visiting professor at the University of Iowa the fall semester of 2012 – and his English wit and sensibility speaks volumes to me in his saying (see the image above): “Have regrets.  They are fuel.  On the page they flare into desire.”

Too many times, I find myself regretting that I didn’t prioritize some part of my writing in a different order, or I missed a word that my fingers bungled on the keyboard and ‘spell-check’ saw it as correct (when “and” should have just been “an”), or I had “life” issues bump a writing session altogether on a set-aside day.  But, then I sat down and looked at what Dyer had to say and felt a little flame begin to grow.

Dyer had ten little rules for writing fiction that he publicly shared.  I can’t say I agree with all of them (aside from his quote on regrets)…but here are a few I believe help me fuel my fire as a writer:

Dyer said, “Keep a diary. The biggest regret of my writing life is that I have never kept a journal or a diary.” One thing I have done a ton of, throughout my life, is journaling.  If it’s a good rule for writers to write “what they know”, I literally have volumes of crap to wade through to find an interesting tidbit or emotional breakdown in scribbled scrawl.  One thing that has been constant in my journaling is a litany of ideas I have had for good starts to stories.  Dyer may be onto something here – if I can just stop adding more entries to find time to step back in time and look over previous entries.

Dyer thought writing in public potentially hazardous, and said (after comparing getting the danger of feet to head in England versus Paris cafés), “I now think it should be done only in private, like any other lavatorial activity.” Hmmm.  Lavatorial?  Like showering, shaving and the other “S” that typically completes the Big Three?  I admit, limiting distractions (no, honey, the dog does NOT need to go out again just yet) is a must if you want to write cohesive sentences with proper flow.  I have never “written” in a lavatory, and I am happy to admit that I will not carry a laptop in there, either.

As for computers (including laptops, tablets and smart-phones these days), Dyer said, “If you use a computer, constantly refine and expand your autocorrect settings. The only reason I stay loyal to my piece-of-shit computer is that I have invested so much ingenuity into building one of the great auto-correct files in literary history. Perfectly formed and spelt words emerge from a few brief keystrokes: “Niet” becomes “Nietzsche,” “phoy” becomes “photography” and so on. Genius!”. How many times have you felt like calling your dumber-than-a-box-of-rocks computing/writing device marketed as a 21st Century electronic brain what Dyer said when it corrected “broken” to “broccoli” or vice versa?  Be honest!  I have turned off all auto-correct on my devices because – if I am going to make a typing error – by golly, it’s going to be a human mistake.

I have no issue with the following Dyer advice:  “Have more than one idea on the go at any one time. If it’s a choice between writing a book and doing nothing I will always choose the latter. It’s only if I have an idea for two books that I choose one rather than the other. I always have to feel that I’m bunking off from something.”  

Me too! Bunking off right into the comforts of my queen-size bed in silence, darkness and warm-fuzzy blankets.  I will the vivid dreams to flood my mind in 3-D (sometimes 4-D) colorful brilliance.  Some of my best ideas come from the bizarre dreams I have that are not only plotted out (magic), but have protagonists and villains and sometimes, characters from books and movies.  And, this is the best part, I talk – out loud – to them, to the dismay of my furry children and spouse.

And my brain – look out Intel.  Your Pentium microchips simply can not handle the burn my brain creates in its firestorm of flowing ideas.  Now, who can build a machine that can tap into my brain directly and record this stuff because I am telling you – you could be rich (especially if you sold the contents as comedy).

If I don’t have at least five ideas going around in my brain at all times, someone should consult the hospital to see if I am in intensive care.

Dyer said that writing should be an everyday thing, “a habit of putting your observations into words…” I know a lot of my observations, especially those made at Wal-Mart (my seventh level of Hell – thank you Dante), should NEVER be written unless I want the heavens to spew brimstone and lightning and turn me to an ash pile.  At least Dyer was honest when he admitted he never followed this piece of advice.

His last tidbit was about never riding a bicycle with the brakes on.  He compared doing so to making the writing process so restrictive (smell the burning rubber?) that most would just give up, stop trying.  He wasn’t talking about a spin class, but did mention he went to the gym and hated it.  His point? Writing takes perseverance.  Do it today so that you don’t sit down one day and say, ‘hey, I can’t do that anymore’.

“That’s what writing is to me: a way of postponing the day when I won’t do it any more,” Dyer wrote, “the day when I will sink into a depression so profound it will be indistinguishable from perfect bliss.”

I am not sure if he’s being sarcastic at the end, there.  I am pretty sure my depression will be easily distinguishable from my bliss.  Maybe it was the profoundness…is that a word?

And I can relate to the ‘not being able to do a thing’ sentiment.  I have arthritis in my writing hand that makes using a pen nearly crippling after a few minutes.  I remember when I loved writing in a brand new notebook with a slick pen that would glide across the page. Thankfully, I can still type.  I have had to give up a lot of sports I was really good at, even if I hated practices.  I look back and think, “I would love to do that again,” and maybe this time be a bit more free in spirit and a little less reckless with my body.

So, thank you Geoff Dyer – you’ve lit the spark.  I promise to only throw the really embarrassing journal entries and mistyped words into the flames.  I will enjoy my private writing spaces and remember to light things up today before the embers burn out.  And mainly, I will allow myself a few regrets – even if I have bad observations at Wal-Mart, because good fuel makes the hottest fire – and ‘Smores taste better over open flame.

(Read Dyer’s 10 Rules Here)

Talking with Nick Cole and Editing Blastzone Magazine (TM)

This has been an interesting week.  I was recovering from an illness (that nasty viral stuff that congests the lungs and nose, leaving you with a single nostril that may or may not provide enough air; forcing you to be a mouth-breather at night to survive) and had a million things on my to-do list.  After getting as much sleep as humanly possible to build up my strength, I moved ahead with a head of steam (no pun intended).

One of the best things that happened was getting an opportunity to sit down and have a chat with Nick Cole, author of The Wasteland Saga and the Wyrd series (among other things).  In as relaxed a manner possible (it was done using Facebook messenger and I was in my pajamas), I let my fingers speak for my befuddled brain.  Hopefully, Nick wasn’t completely taken off-guard by the format of my rambling.

I have been working with the Ebook Blaster group – indie authors, artists, poets and publishers – to put out their inaugural volume of Blastzone Magazine (TM).  The group is a mix of some really intelligent writers and creative folks.

Having been asked to act as editor of the first issue (tentative release at the end of April), and using my indie publishing company to ‘print’ it, I was really trying to find the most interesting content possible.  That meant reaching out to contacts I had already developed and hoping that my first opportunity to do a project like this would accurately illustrate the type of people involved in the group – and connect writers with readers – the overall goal of the magazine and the Ebook Blaster group.

I had just finished reading Cole’s first book in the Wyrd series: The Red King.  Fellow Blaster team member, and fantasy/sci-fi writer Wes Hart was reading the second book, The Dark Knight.  After having a short discussion about how excited we were about the books, I contacted Nick and set up the interview.

Having lived in Los Angeles County (California) for nearly two years, the ‘scene’ of the Wyrd series evoked a ton of memories:  the Santa Ana winds on a late-January day; wild parrots and their cacophonous activities in the tops of orange, grapefruit and Ceratonia siliqua (Carob) trees; the smell of exhaust combined with taco trucks, In-N-Out Burger on the corner and the slight, salty ocean scent that was an undercurrent but present.  It reminded me of the hot asphalt that burned the soles of shoes as the sun burned through the ozone haze of industry and machines full of people around and on I-5 (Interstate 5) at a blasting 108 degrees (Fahrenheit) on a summer day.  In my mind’s eye, I could see the pink and cream stucco-sided townhouses with clay tile roofs, deftly-trimmed lawns that would brown without a constant sprinkler system, the palm fronds blowing overhead.  And at one point, when reading The Red King, I remembered a time that I burned a dress in Angeles National Forest (unaware that there was a huge – and I mean HUGE – fine due to the nearly ever-present danger of fire that could be whipped up so easily and torch Jet Propulsion Laboratories in Pasadena to the ground in a hot second).  That dress burning may have been a rite of passage, a celebration of an anniversary in Southern California for me, but wowzers could it have ended up being as big of a nightmare as the avocado groves going up in a firestorm in Cole’s book.

I am excited to present the full interview with Cole in Blastzone Magazine (TM) and hope that readers will take a look at his first two books in the series ahead of the magazine’s release.  Click the covers below to pick up your copies (They’re 99 cents of fabulous adventure).

As a teaser:  Cole expects his third book in the series to be out shortly after the magazine publishes.  I promise that the reviews that claim The Red King and The Dark Knight are pulpy zombie books is false.  There may be zombie-like creatures in the books, but that is not what the books are about.  Pulp fiction, yes.   A fun, fast-paced plot-oriented story that has plenty of flawed characters, creative imagery in the words and an underlying humor that can be both dark and outright funny? Yes.  And intensity that builds and builds…guaranteed.  Fantastic graphic novel-like covers, check and check.


And just a heads-up:  There is still time to submit items to Blastzone Magazine (TM) if you are interested.  The due date for submitting is April 5, 2016 – so please go to the Ebook Blaster website and find out the details.  I would personally love to add more great material to it.

Official site of Christina L Rivers – writer, journalist, artist and photographer