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Overzealous Recycling 007: Was that just a pose?

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— If you missed the last Overzealous Recycling, you can read it here —

I’ve been following a lot more people on Twitter recently, largely to try and get more views in my timeline. That’s increased the noise on my TweetDeck, but I felt like I wasn’t seeing as much stuff as I wanted to while trying to keep my follower count lean.

No, I haven’t been adding more conservative political views or anything like that. Most of the follows have been culture writers, especially people who either work in the comic book industry or cover it, to try and learn as much as I can for The Amusement Park Podcast or my own writing.

Along the way, I’ve noticed a few writers linking to their Muck Rack page, a database for journalists and public relations professionals. (I think it was Meg Downey, writing for DC Universe, who first got my attention.)

This reminded me that I created a Muck Rack page for myself a couple years ago. I had actually forgotten! I’m even a verified journalist there! My avatar was a photo of baseball player Munenori Kawasaki wearing a Cubs cap, which means I posted it in 2016. So I figured it was time to wipe off the cobwebs and update that thing.

I’m guessing a few PR people found me that way, but I’m hoping some editors and hiring managers might be browsing Muck Rack as I’m actively seeking new work. I’ve linked the page on my Twitter bio as well, but you can find my Muck Rack page here.

You’ll Be Deeply Missed, Nick Cafardo

Baseball — and baseball media — lost one of its best with the Boston Globe‘s Nick Cafardo passing away this past week. Cafardo was 62, which is just far too young. It’s just about the same age my father was when he died, which made this resonate a bit more.

I think it was impossible to cover or follow baseball — as a beat reporter, columnist, blogger, or a fan — without reading Cafardo’s work. His Sunday Notes and On Baseball columns were extremely insightful and enjoyable. As a baseball writer, they were indispensable for learning what was going on throughout the sport.

Cafardo had been with the Globe for 30 years, covering the Red Sox for the past 15 years after a stint reporting on the New England Patriots. He covered the Pats just as their long run of success under Bill Belichick and Tom Brady began. And the Red Sox won four World Series championships while he followed the team.

It just doesn’t seem possible that we won’t have another baseball season with Cafardo’s information and insight. Condolences to his family, including his son Ben, who many of us have worked with through ESPN’s PR department. Cafardo will truly be missed.

Grocery Store Playlist

It’s been a couple weeks since I went grocery shopping long enough to listen to some music. But I finally ran low enough on food that I needed an extended visit. So here’s a new playlist.

This time, I shopped at Trader Joe’s, if you think any of these songs (the David Lee Roth version of “California Girls”? Really?) don’t sound like current supermarket fare. The frozen and cheese sections are particularly loaded, which allows for some good listening.

10 to Read

** I have spent most of the past nine months trying to find a better work-life balance, veering dangerously close to whining about it. I think I’m in a good place now, though may have leaned too far toward the “life” side of the equation. Is trying to “balance” those parts of your life creating an unrealistic expectation? [Fast Company]

** Mahershala Ali could win his second Best Supporting Actor Academy Award Sunday night. (What if it happens while many of us are watching him in the True Detective finale?) In college, he was a role player known for his defense with Saint Mary’s, then going by Hershal Gilmore. [Washington Post]

** Speaking of the Oscars, I feel less interest for this year’s awards than I have in the past. (Though I’ll still tune in Sunday night, of course.) I think a big reason for that is because the movie that looks like the best to me, A Star Is Born, seems to have lost momentum since its October release. Is it bad to be the front-runner four months out? Do some knock A Star Is Born for being a remake? [Vulture]

By the way, I think Green Book is going to win Best Picture. Just a vibe. I don’t think it’s the deserving winner. 

** This is a fun list of spaceship reveals in pop culture. But my favorite didn’t make the cut. I love, love, love the scene in J.J. Abrams’ 2009 Star Trek when James Kirk and Leonard McCoy see the U.S.S. Enterprise for the first time. (OK, Michael Giacchino’s score helps — a lot.) [io9]

A close second, which is on io9’s list, is Rey and Finn finding the Millennium Falcon in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Abrams knows how to reveal spaceships, man.

** “I’m good at two things in this world: throwing baseballs, and pissing people off.” Cleveland Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer is a major asshole, and he knows it. Maybe lay off harassing young women on social media, dude. You can see why he clashes with teammates and coaches. But he’s also kind of fascinating. I’m sure I’d like him a lot more if he pitched for my team. [Sports Illustrated]

** If you saw Alita: Battle Angel (I thought it was really impressive visually, but only OK, story-wise) and are curious about the original manga source material, this is a good introduction. Personally, I’m always fascinated by how a movie adapts a book, which stories and characters are used, and which are left behind. [Kotaku]

** It probably shouldn’t be a surprise that DC Comics canceled the publication of a book in which Jesus Christ returns to the world and is dismayed to discover that most people worship an all-powerful superhero. The comic was going to be released under DC’s Vertigo imprint. Writer Mark Russell and illustrator Richard Pace will be able to publish Second Coming elsewhere, however. [SYFY]

Musical Interlude

I saw on Facebook that Paul Westerberg’s Suicaine Gratification was released 20 years ago. This was Westerberg’s third solo album, following 14 Songs and Eventually.

Yes, 20 years ago makes me feel old. But I just listened to the album recently while going through old CDs and it sounded so fresh to me. Westerberg really seemed to have progressed as a songwriter by then.

** Greg Pak is a comic book writer, filmmaker and Rhodes Scholar with whom you may or may not be familiar. His experience as a freelancer has led to some good insight on taking opportunities, even when they’re not exactly what you want, knowing when to say no, holding yourself accountable for your mistakes, and how to engage a potential audience. [ICv2]

** Should we say “no” more often in our personal lives, in addition to our work lives? Maybe that helps eliminate life clutter and reduce stress. I’ve probably gone a bit too far in this direction, and sometimes think I should say “yes” more often. In work situations, however? I burned myself out. [The Guardian]

** I ate jackfruit as a meat substitute for the first time last week. Prepared with a lemon-garlic sauce, it was pretty good! I’d like to try it as a pulled pork substitute, but every time I’m at a BBQ joint, I’d rather have the real thing. I’ll do it someday soon, though. [The Guardian]

I’d even consider buying a jackfruit next time I visit the Hong Kong Supermarket in Norcross, Georgia, where boxes of the giant, spiky fruit are on pallets. But they’re like the size of an infant, and there’s a lot of smell and slime to deal with once you cut through that outer shell.

Weekly Affirmation

movie reviews

A Star is Born fulfills advance hype with excellent work from Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga

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Could A Star is Born possibly be better than its trailer? That’s a joke (or cynical opinion) often reserved for superhero blockbusters like Iron Man, Man of Steel and Suicide Squad.

The preview released in June got seemingly everyone excited for this movie and probably brought some relief to those who thought a remake of the 1976 Barbra Streisand-Kris Kristofferson film was a terrible idea that could possibly destroy Bradley Cooper’s career (at least as a director).

No one’s laughing or wincing now.

Not only does Cooper give the best acting performance of his career, but he also impresses as a director. He lets scenes play out and trusts his actors, rather than resorting to quick cuts and editing to create a false sense of story movement. It’s not difficult to imagine that he’s providing the direction himself that he would’ve preferred other filmmakers gave him and his co-stars.

There might be a few scenes that go a bit long, especially in the movie’s less compelling second half. But when so many films now feel like they were sliced up and patched together in the editing bay, a movie that takes time with its characters and lets the actors shine feels refreshing.

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newsletter

Not a Newsletter: Workin’ hard to get my fill

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Hello from the end of the 4th of July holiday weekend! Did a Wednesday July 4 help create a five-day weekend?

The calendar turning to July reminded me that I haven’t accomplished nearly the amount of reading I’ve intended to this summer (yet I still keep buying books; it’s a problem). It doesn’t help when getting sidetracked by a book I didn’t expect to read, like Don’t Stop Believin’, a memoir by Jonathan Cain, the keyboardist for Journey.

Journey was my favorite band as a kid, something I remember taking a lot of shit for, but is apparently cool in a nostalgic way now. (As with comic books, it took 30 years for culture to be accommodating.) So reading Cain’s accounts of how songs like “Don’t Stop Believin'” and “Open Arms” were written was really fun, providing a dose of nostalgia right in the vein.

Particularly amusing was the revelation that “Don’t Stop Believin'” refers to “South Detroit” (something that plenty of Detroiters will tell you doesn’t exist) because Cain thought that line needed an extra syllable.

Songwriting has always fascinated me. Composing melodies and writing lyrics to fit in (or vice versa) just seems ethereal. Even bad songs are the result of that. Getting a glimpse into that process — why isn’t the chorus of “Don’t Stop Believin'” until the end? — just pulled me right in. It was the pleasant surprise of my week.

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