Thursday, November 18, 2010

Weird, Wild Stuff

Yesterday was one of the stranger days of my young (unpaid) journalism career, gang. Here's the gist: I came to the UNC School of Journalism on an assistantship. My job is to work as a writer and editor in the Reese Felts newsroom, a brand new venture funded by a huge gift ($4.1 million) from the estate of a deceased alum. The school hired a guy named Monty Cook to run the show. Before coming to UNC, he was a senior vp and editor at The Baltimore Sun. Our site launched on November 1.

Over the past couple days, some strange rumors about Monty were swirling around the halls of the J-School. Yesterday, our dean called a meeting of newsroom staff and told us he'd resigned due to "improper conduct" with a female student.

Since we're a news organization, we had to cover it. I got to write the story. You can read it here.

Too bizarre. Believe me, I would love to editorialize the hell out of this, but it's probably not a good idea since I'm supposed to be respectable (ha!). Just know that the story is weird as hell, with a lot of strange elements, and I think it's going to blow up today.

Everything interesting can be found at that link, so let's move's another article I wrote earlier this week for Reese Felts. This one is part 2 of a series about Hillside High's football team. The large Durham school completed their first undefeated season since 1943 two weeks ago, and now they're trying to win their first state championship. Vad Lee, the truly spectacular Hillside QB, is heading to Georgia Tech next year. The latest installment in the series covers their first playoff game. It's essay style, with some humor mixed in, so you might enjoy it more than your typical high school football recap. Check it out here.

It's been an absolute blast to cover these guys, and everyone from the coach to the principal to the players have been super. Can't wait for Friday.

I was reporting away at the newsroom last night, so I have no concept of what happened in sports. Instead of the super-insightful analysis you usually get, I'm going to go down the list of ESPN front page headlines and make stupid jokes. Then I'm going to explain the joke. This is a bold and original strategy, sure to light the comedy world on fire (and then put it out with one of those water-spraying flowers that clowns wear on their lapel).

Headline #1: "Man says he received Newton payment plan"

Joke: He was disappointed to learn that the plan was nothing more than a series of apples dropping on his head from a nearby tree.

Explanation: In a brilliant act of substitution, I am telling the audience that the 'Newton' in question is not Cam Newton, Auburn quarterback, but Sir Isaac Newton, the bitter old bastard who invented gravity.

Headline #2: "Woods says he's happier person now"

Joke: Happier, he says, than when he was 9 and his insane abusive dad forced him to play golf for 18 hours a day. But definitely not happier than when he was having sex with all those strange and beautiful women.

Explanation: From the headline, you assume that he's happier than when he was having sex with all those strange and beautiful women. I tell you that no, that is not the case. We all share a hearty laugh.

Headline #3: "Bosh's 35 points power Heat's rout of Suns"

Joke: A resentful Sun told reporters that if weren't for him, nobody would even know what Heat was.

Explanation: I personified the team's nicknames and created an interactive scenario based on their inherent qualities. This is largely due to the fact that I was neglected as a child.

Headline #4: Blazer's Oden (knee) out for year.

Joke: In a private meeting, Oden reportedly told teammates and family that he hates the nickname '(knee).'

Explanation: (knee) is the nature of the injury, not his nickname. GROW UP, BLOGGER.

Headline #5: "Source: Jeter, Yanks at odds on deal"

Joke: It seems Jeter wants a ton of money to be old and bad at baseball, while the Yankees are like 'man, this really, really sucks.'

Explanation: A flippant summary of what the story is about. As if I'm so fucking cool. I couldn't wear Derek Jeter's jock. (Seriously, I couldn't; he won't let me. His PR people block me at every turn, and you can't find anything on e-bay.)

Headline #6: "Sources: Marlins target starter with Uggla cash"

Joke: Uggla: "Man, why did I sign that contract that lets my team pay for other players with my money? STUPID! MOM WAS RIGHT, I SHOULD HAVE HIRED A LAWYER!"

Explanation: Total misrepresentation of the headline. This just barely beat a joke where I pretended that the Marlins in question were actual fish. Man, that one was depressing.

Headline #7: "Parker powers hot Spurs after divorce filing"

Joke: Was this an ESPN headline or some weirdo's pitch for a new fetish website?

Explanation: Seriously, this is really creepy.

Headline #8: "Favre's focus is on beating Packers"

Joke: His cell phone camera's focus, though, is still on "auto" so it can take accurate pictures of his penis.

Explanation: I don't know anything about cameras.

Headline #9: "Source: Saints' Bush plans to return Sunday"

Joke: America's Bush, meanwhile, plans to giggle idiotically at re-runs of the sitcom "Yes, Dear" that he keeps on VHS.

Explanation: I pander to a liberal audience.

Headline #10: "Rumors: Boston needs price on Upton to drop"

Joke: Luckily for them, there's a huge Upton bubble on the market right now, and it's about to burst. Soon you'll be able to get Uptons for pennies on the dollar.

Explanation: I don't know anything about markets.

If you read all 10 of those, I am so, so sorry. That's all for today, though. Pick Six on the way tomorrow plus some Duke-Colgate talk.


  1. Is it your fault or some kind of editor's that it keeps getting formatted as G-mail and G-chat? Everywhere I've ever seen it it's rendered as GMail. Less sure on the chat but I think Google usually refers to it as "Google chat"

  2. As far as we can tell, there's no consensus AP style format on G-mail or G-chat. It's sort of up to the news organization's discretion, as long as they're consistent.


  3. The J-School story made a Gawker headline haha.

  4. Did you accidentally research this person?
    Last seen cheating his 8 sided attack die with a 12 sided character development die!

  5. I read all 10 and I had a little chuckle at every one. I'm pretty sure I should feel worse about that than I do.

  6. Anon 1 - it's also on Huffpo and Romanesko, along with some others. Crazy stuff.

    Anon 2 - I am very familiar with that Monte Cook. He's incredible.

    Anon 3 - SHAME!

    Anon 4 - Since you haven't commented yet, I'm anticipating your post. And that's a really, really weird thing to say. But also, strangely, true.


  7. Idaho? No, You-daho!