newsletter

Overzealous Recycling 002: Nothing really matters, anyone can see

malek_reading

This week’s cover photo alludes to Bohemian Rhapsody‘s surprising Golden Globe Awards win for Best Picture – Drama. The voters of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association thought the Queen biopic was better than Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman, A Star is Born and If Beale Street Could Talk. (I haven’t seen Beale Street yet, but hope to take care of that this weekend, now that it’s opened in Asheville.)

Obviously, this is all subjective and awards don’t matter that much, but come on. Bohemian Rhapsody was fun and a testament to the greatness of Queen’s music. But the narrative was a mess and the script played with the facts more than necessary. Yes, the re-enactment of Queen’s 1985 Live Aid performance was tremendous, even more so when you compare it to the real-life footage.

Bohemian Rhapsody reminds us Queen was great, ignores too much about Freddie Mercury — 

This isn’t even a concession to popular tastes. If so, wouldn’t Black Panther have won that award? Maybe the voters just got caught up in the music and Freddie Mercury’s story (regardless of how the movie portrayed it). Or we just chalk this up to being the Golden Globes and winners don’t linger in the memory as they do with the Academy Awards.

But if the award got you to listen to “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Fat Bottomed Girls,” “We Will Rock You” or “Radio Ga Ga” over the past week, that’s not a bad thing.

Musical Interlude

Well, it has to be a Queen song after all that, right?

Writing Outbox

The rebooted Star Trek movie series might be finished, which I wrote about for the Amusement Park Podcast website.

Maybe there’s still hope, but with “Star Trek 4” on the shelf (and the film’s director, S.J. Clarkson, moving on to direct the Game of Thrones prequel pilot), it doesn’t look good. That cast is probably moving on to other things too. Unfulfilled potential is always disappointing.

10 to Read

** Reading more is a perennial New Year’s Resolution for me. I’ll argue that I read a lot online, but it’s not the same as reading books. I almost put “Aspiring Voracious Reader” in my Twitter bio. I envy those who devour books. Maybe my problem is that I don’t give up on books I’m not enjoying? Setting a goal is probably better, though. [Strand Book Store]

Right now, by the way, I’m reading How to Be Alone by Lane Moore and because we’re in the midst of the NFL playoffs, Gridiron Genius by Michael Lombardi. For the past 10-12 years, I’ve read a lot more nonfiction than fiction. This year, I’m reading some novels. I haven’t decided where to go yet (though Warren Ellis’s Normal is the current front-runner) and welcome your suggestions.

** Are you drinking coffee as you read this? (I’m enjoying some as I write this.) Would it surprise you to learn that coffee — organic beans ground properly, brewed at the right temperature, etc. — is a key part of the Portland Trail Blazers’ pregame preparation, 35 minutes before tipoff? A caffeine jolt is necessary when Portland is so far from every other NBA city. [ESPN]

** Peeing frequently is a symptom of diabetes, but I also drink a lot of water. (Typically, I drink about 100 oz. per day.) So what is considered normal? Apparently, I’m OK for how much I drink. (I actually counted last weekend; I went 14 times over a 24-hour period.) [The Cut]

** Another nonfiction book that will be on my reading list is Tommy Tomlinson’s The Elephant in the Room, in which he writes. This is a must-read for me. Not just because of how the topic relates to me, but also because Tomlinson is a wonderful writer and beloved figure in the sportswriting profession. Here’s an excerpt. [The Atlantic]

** Have you watched Bandersnatch yet? We reviewed it on last week’s Amusement Park Podcast, but apparently didn’t go as deep in the hole as we could have. I’m not sure I want to watch it again, but knowing that even more endings exist is certainly intriguing. Overall, Bandersnatch was a really fun, ambitious endeavor by the Black Mirror team. [TV Line]

** Chelsea Janes is going from covering the Washington Nationals to Washington D.C.’s true sport: politics. Some of the best sportswriting today comes from the reporters who cover the Nats: Barry Svrluga, Adam Kilgore, and Janes. I’m excited to see what she offers from the national politics beat. Janes is off to a good start, following Elizabeth Warren in Iowa. [Washington Post]

** I’m against the idea of MLB banning the defensive shift, though I understand why baseball is concerned about less scoring and fewer balls in play. Though the shift seems like a relatively new concept, its origins actually go back to the 1940s when teams were trying to stop Ted Williams. [FiveThirtyEight]

** Until reading this, I didn’t quite realize just how bad group restaurant dinners can be. I thought I disliked them because they were usually family gatherings. But a few birthday dinners where people didn’t at least contribute to the birthday boy or girl scarred me for life. [Lifehacker]

** It took me a long time to embrace non-superhero, alternative comics. But even when I wasn’t reading Love and Rockets, I knew it was there. The art and colors by Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez were so eye-catching. When I visited the Fantagraphics store in Seattle last May, I wanted to buy all of those books and bring them home. [SYFY Wire]

** If NFL teams put as much creativity into their front office and coaching hires as they did with circumventing the Rooney Rule (which mandates interviewing minority candidates for head coach and general manager positions), more of them might be successful. [Bleacher Report]

Weekly Affirmation

Naturally, from noted motivational speaker, Ice-T:

Podcast

Amusement Park 021: Getting pumped for 2019! Marvel, DC, Comics, TV and Movies – Oh, My

rey_starwars

On the latest Amusement Park Podcast, we make up for last week when we briefly touched on the geek culture we were looking forward to in 2019. So we’re circling back for a longer list and some more in-depth thoughts. Avengers: Endgame, Star Wars: Episode IX, The Punisher, Game of Thrones, DC Universe and more!

Also, we discuss Bohemian Rhapsody‘s surprising Golden Globes win and what we’re enjoying this week. That’s where I express my love for Cartoonist Kayfabe, the comic book nostalgia trip hosted by Ed Piskor and Jim Rugg, which has become my favorite thing to have on while I’m working.

We got a review on iTunes! The seal is broken, so hopefully you’ll join in with your own review.

You can subscribe to the Amusement Park Podcast everywhere you find podcasts:

Thank you for listening! Please give us a like on our Facebook page to help grow our audience. You can also give us feedback at amusementparkpod@gmail.com and find us on Twitter and Instagram. We’d love to hear from you!

newsletter

Overzealous Recycling 001: OK, this might be a newsletter

bullock_readingIf you’ve taken the time to scroll through this blog’s archives — and truly, thank you if you’ve actually done so — you’ve walked a path largely littered with neglect and failed ambitions. Trying to maintain my version of a newsletter here definitely fell victim to that.

I enjoy newsletters a lot (although I’m trying to pare my subscriptions down during the new year) and would like to take a swing at one myself. (In a future post, maybe I’ll list some of my favorites.) But I doubt that I’d attract enough subscribers to make the venture worthwhile. If I’m wrong about that, please let me know and I’ll activate the MailChimp (“mail… kimp?“) signal.

However, I have no business running a newsletter unless I can produce content regularly. There’s a writing resolution for 2019. And if I want to actually create a newsletter, calling it “Not a Newsletter” while it’s in blog form probably sends the wrong message. After tripping over the phrase “overzealous recycling” a couple of months ago, I thought it could be a good title for a newsletter. So here we are.

These sorts of posts largely began as collections of links to my writing and articles I enjoyed. I haven’t written anything that I’d care to link to in recent months, but hope to change that. And I still find plenty of stuff that I think might interest you. Yet a newsletter should include much more than that. There should be some original writing, mixing in other content like video, photography, audio, and… recipes. (Those seem to be popular!)

Much like comic books often reboot when they want to start continuity over, I’m trying the same thing here and hitting the reset button. I’m aiming to have these done every Thursday (I’m aware this is being posted on a Friday), but in time for the weekend.

Thank you for clicking over, as always! And if you do want this to become an actual newsletter, let me know via the comments or e-mail.

The Reading Links!

** A very close friend of mine lost a very dear friend recently, and far too suddenly. I can’t think of a better legacy for a teacher to leave than one of his students writing about how much of a positive influence he was. [Brenna Noyes]

** Maybe you’re already on your 2019 resolution diet, but read this before going hard in any direction. (This also demonstrates just how much misinformation we’re regularly exposed to when it comes to food and diet.) [Grub Street]

** This Andrew Sullivan piece is more than two years old, but it’s a good reminder as 2019 begins to spend less time online for the benefit of mental (and physical) health. [Intelligencer]

** Mike Piazza thought owning an Italian soccer team would be a fun way to occupy himself after playing baseball. His wife calls it “a midlife crisis.” Piazza probably should listen to his wife more. [The Athletic – $]

** Plenty of food fans might argue with this, but no one has been more influential for food truck culture than Roy Choi. Now he’s opened a restaurant in Las Vegas, which is where the big boy chefs roll. Choi definitely belongs among them. (Note to self: Plan a trip to Vegas in the next year or two.) [Los Angeles Times]

** “Reading more comics” might not be an ideal New Year’s Resolution for me (largely from a financial viewpoint), but “Best of 2018” lists like this one provide a good starting point for new titles, especially non-Marvel and DC, to check out. [io9]

** I thought it was curious that Travel Channel (or the vowel-less “Trvl”) exiled Andrew Zimmern’s show, The Zimmern List, to Saturday mornings. Was that because of what Zimmern said about Chinese restaurants in the Midwest or is “Trvl” phasing out food travel programming? The Zimmern List is a good show that deserves better. [Page Six]

** But Zimmern’s remarks — specifically, calling Midwestern Chinese food “horseshit” — definitely pissed off some chefs and restaurant owners, notably in Zimmern’s home region of Minnesota. [Washington Post]

** If you grew up in metro Detroit and enjoyed live music, chances are you caught at least one show at Harpo’s. (But maybe not, as most of the acts they booked were heavy metal groups.) This oral history captures an era so well.  [Metro Times]

Podcast

Amusement Park Podcast 020: From Bandersnatch to the Bird Box

bandersnatch_stefanIt’s a Netflix night on the first Amusement Park Podcast of 2019! How deep did we fall into the hole with Black Mirror: Bandersnatch? What’s in the Bird Box? Plus, the culture we’re excited about in 2019 and what we enjoyed this week.

You can subscribe to the Amusement Park Podcast everywhere you find podcasts:

Thank you for listening! Please give us a review on iTunes and/or a like on our Facebook page to help grow our audience. You can also give us feedback at amusementparkpod@gmail.com and find us on Twitter and Instagram. We’d love to hear from you!

writing

Always be checking your practice

snoopy_stormyHere we are at a new year, so here comes some new resolve. For me, that usually means some sort of resolution to write more — and especially keep this blog updated. In 2019, I’m hoping that sticks. And I hope you stick as a reader too.

During the last half of 2018, I really tried to achieve a better work-life balance. But I also spent much of that time grousing over how I wasn’t writing as much as I’d like. Getting into podcasting provided some fulfillment, and I hope to learn and do more there as people increasingly listen to podcasts, rather than read blogs.

But if I’m going to complain about not writing, well, I have an outlet for that — one which has led to some degree of professional success. I haven’t gotten much return on that investment in recent years, however. I can claim to be a writer, especially to prospective employers, yet can I really call myself that if I’m not writing?

Just writing more isn’t enough, though. Have I reached a plateau? Have I already been as good as this as I’ll have ever been? Am I just repeating myself?

A writer I admire tremendously is Warren Ellis. He’s been very influential on my blogging and social media. Now, that’s expanding to writing. Over the holidays, I caught up on several issues of his newsletter (Inbox Zero in 2019!) and this passage from the June 24, 2018 edition resonated with me:

check_practise

(I tried to pay my debt to Ellis back in some way by purchasing a bunch of his comics from Comixology, albeit as part of their DC and Marvel holiday sales.)

“Always be checking your practise.” Am I performing as well as I could be? Have I improved or declined? Am I just doing the same thing? Am I evolving or dying? If I wasn’t worried about answering those questions in the negative, I wouldn’t be writing this post.

Far too often in online sports media (and online media, in general), the work is more about producing content and catching clicks, rather than telling a story, informing the reader, and improving craft. Getting out of that grind, at least occasionally feels important. It’s vital, unless it’s just about doing a job. (And there’s nothing wrong with that, if drawing a paycheck is the priority.)

Maybe I’ve done all I’ll ever do as a writer. That would be disheartening, but I’d have to accept that I didn’t push as hard as I could have with my personal ambitions. I suppose I’m not ready to accept that yet.

Along the way, I might find out whether or not people really read blogs anymore. I’ve read a few writers say that they’re returning to blogging, and I admire that. But more people might prefer reading Facebook and Instagram, or listening to podcasts. If so, that might be a cue to commit to doing a true newsletter.

Ultimately, that shouldn’t matter, though. Not here. This should be where I write, regardless of how many people read that work.

Podcast

Amusement Park Podcast 019: Best and Worst of 2018

titans_batman

It’s our final show of 2018, so we’re picking our Best and Worst of the year! Movies, TV, music, books, etc. We also react to the Titans season finale and review some movies, including Chris’s thoughts on Aquaman. Happy New Year!

You can subscribe to the Amusement Park Podcast everywhere you find podcasts:

Thank you for listening! Please give us a review on iTunes and/or a like on our Facebook page to help grow our audience. You can also give us feedback at amusementparkpod@gmail.com and find us on Twitter and Instagram. We’d love to hear from you!

Podcast

Amusement Park Podcast 018: Aquaman Love

momoa_smirkOn the latest Amusement Park Podcast, we review Aquaman! Did Jason Momoa sink or swim? We also discuss Mortal Engines‘ disastrous box office, the new MoviePass plans that may pull Chris back in and what we’re enjoying this week.

Thank you for listening! We’d love to hear from you. You can reach us at amusementparkpod@gmail.com. Also, please give us a review on iTunes and/or a like on our Facebook page to boost our signal. We’d enjoy some feedback!

You can subscribe to the Amusement Park Podcast on virtually every platform available: