Top 5 Ways the Wake Forest Football Deacs Are Like Santa

26 Dec

IMG_15481. They deliver on the road.

2. They’re uber-popular (including with bowl organizers and TV executives).

3. Also known for an up-tempo style.

4. The team from “The Dash” definitely has a dasher (in more ways than one).

5. They combine just enough suspense with comprehensive comfort & joy.

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Wake Forest won its third straight bowl game before Christmas.

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To Have and Have Not

30 Nov

“An angel in the book of life wrote down my baby’s birth.
Then whispered as she closed the book ‘too beautiful for earth.’”
~ author unknown

Missing Marlee a year later and all that was supposed to be – baby pictures, holiday outfits, the many cute firsts, big cousin hugs from my girls and so much heartfelt joy.

“As badly as we want to hold you in our arms, know that you will forever be carried in our hearts,” her momma wrote.

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Tweet_have:have not blog

A house divided against itself cannot stand. So too a soul?

The holidays, for the most part, have been times of joy and relaxation – I’ve been quite lucky – but the divide in my greater family and my country over the last couple of years has pushed Christmas toward the dark side of the moon.

I used to wonder when I heard people talk about holiday stress (other than shopping and traffic). Now I realize that the “most wonderful time of the year” can serve up very harsh reminders. Every holiday season, there are people doing anything they can to avoid dwelling on division or tragedy, such as the anniversary of divorce or a father’s suicide. Loves and lives can be long lost, but the memories of those can be painfully refreshed every year.

When the commercial, social and traditional impetus of the Christmas season says you should be…

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A Scary Time in America

31 Oct

My favorite Wake Forest basketball coach was fond of reciting the Ralph Waldo Emerson quote, “Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.”

Across the vastly varying degrees of character, credibility and eloquence throughout our country’s history, the President of the United States has assumed the No. 1 spot as chief influencer. This fact – and that quote – have a depressing, disgusting dark side with our latest leader.

A day after a Florida suspect was arrested in connection with the mailing of bombs to prominent Democrats, including two former presidents, a white, male American terrorist murdered 11 worshippers at a Pittsburgh synagogue. That came on the heels of a racist Louisville gunman killing two African Americans in a grocery store after attempting to storm a black church.

Donald Trump’s response? He complained how the bomb coverage was detracting from positive Republican midterm momentum and then used the phrase “lock him up” while chuckling in reference to George Soros, a target of the bombing attempt. Instead of unequivocal condemnation of the violence in Pittsburgh, he blamed the synagogue for not having armed protection. The president later continued his very dangerous labeling of the media as “enemy of the people.”

Last year in Charlottesville, Va., three months after my family and I visited our first college niece there, a woman was killed when a homicidal maniac drove his vehicle into a crowd of counter-protesters during a weekend of militant right-wing marches. Trump famously said there were “very fine people, on both sides” of the white supremacist demonstration. (As we know, well before that Trump bragged about sexual assault and mocked a handicapped reporter.)

Make no mistake, Americans have always killed each other, from the Civil War to the lynching of thousands of blacks to constant domestic violence and school shootings. The difference is our president doesn’t seem to care, that is, when he’s not directly sowing hateful division and stoking the ‘culture wars,’ including a recent approving boast about a GOP politician body-slamming a reporter.

As little boys and girls across the land joyfully and innocently prepare for Halloween festivities, powerful interests on the right continue to prioritize unfettered access to military-style assault weapons over their safety. The president himself unabashedly cited arms sales to Saudi Arabia as a reason to support the denial coming from the Middle Eastern kingdom regarding its role in the recent assassination of a Washington Post columnist.

White people, especially males like me, have had it really good in this country. Those of us still connected to our principles must ask ourselves: are we too busy or comfortable or self-interested to stand up for what is right during this very scary time in America? Do we favor divisive media messages over “Love Thy Neighbor” coming from the pulpit or the liberty-and-justice-for-all ideals in our nation’s sacred oaths and texts? How will our children and grandchildren view the choices we make in this time?

Silence favors the oppressor, as does the seemingly ubiquitous ‘both sides do it’ and ‘what-about-ism’ arguments. DO NOT take a fraction of a step in the direction of normalizing this president’s behavior. I truly worry that we’re one election away from being a democracy in name only…

As my favorite president, a Republican, said during our most divisive time as a country, “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

God Bless America — all of it.

72 Hrs. in America

Freelance Doesn’t Come Free: Five Rules for Writers to Live By

28 Aug

Some rules, like the Golden one, you should always follow. Others, such as eliminating the middle man, you can break on occasion. Here are some tips for freelance writers that I’ve learned over the years… with some Honest Abe and Godfather flavoring mixed in.

1. Net Pain Comes Before Net Gain

Networking is a funny thing. I’ve had neighbors and even relatives mock me or treat me like I had the plague after broaching my networking pursuits. I once bought lunch for an executive driving a Porsche, only to never hear from him again. But I’ve also had very refreshing and encouraging experiences with the, um, better angels of my network, those kind men and women spending substantial extra effort to help little ol’ me. The freelance life can certainly be a roller-coaster. Stay positive and committed to the Golden Rule!

2. Be Direct With Your Editor (But Only After Becoming Indispensable)

No man is an island, except freelancers. We often deal with a lot of abuse, but feel like we can’t say anything to the editor for fear of losing assignments or the entire gig. My favorite is having to choke down a tight turnaround on a multi-source story, but then being forced to wait 60 or more days to get paid. Honesty is still the best policy, but make sure you’ve paid your dues with the boss first before issuing a list of complaints or demands, no matter how righteous they may be. It’s a fact of life: the rookie does not get the same respect as the trusty veteran workhorse.

3. PR Is Not Evil

A journalism professor of mine indoctrinated in his students that “PR is evil!” Except when you’re on deadline and you need someone to chase those pesky sources while you tend to your other many content responsibilities. Writers face enough challenges and disrespect; don’t pass on the highly motivated and free (to you) interns that are PR professionals. I say to you: never eliminate the middle man!

4. Remember: It’s Not Personal, It’s Business

We writers all hear about the separation of editorial and advertising in journalism. There’s another separation: the j-school classroom and the real world. In the latter, especially with B2B content, you’re going to deal with editors who have to accommodate their sales people’s desires and interests. The best (as in the worst) is a late demand from the “other side” to include a source, i.e., past or potential advertiser. Then it turns out, after you try for a day and a half on press week to schedule an interview, that said source has only bits of advertorial fluff to share. Remembering rule No. 2 when faced with this dilemma, try to emphasize the quality of the product/work vs. I this or my principles that. The bottom line is the bottom line.

5. Always Be in Business Development Mode

A recent contract copywriting gig with an agency was going along smoothly. The account managers were nice, the client was easy to deal with and the work was interesting. In fact, my PR handlers even hyped that a new client could be added to my freelance plate soon. Then suddenly I was left on the cruel side of double or nuthin’! Extra work turned into no work as the client dropped the agency. I was sent scrambling to recover the revenue while relearning that diligent, regular outreach to and maintenance of your freelance network is much preferred to having to dust it off in desperate times.

It’s important to stay focused when networking.

Breaking News

31 Jul
  • An Arm

“You’ll be hearing from our lawyer,” my mother-in-law quipped as she gingerly walked to the car. Dee-Dee could still maintain her sense of humor even though she had just fallen off a bike, fracturing her arm and dislocating an elbow, while riding with our big girl. She also apologized for taking a bag of frozen peas, which she used on her aching, swollen arm. I will gladly donate peas to such a cause, not that I welcomed the opportunity.

  • A Leg

My father-in-law sure didn’t expect to drive from the hospital to his band’s concert, but that’s what happened the next day. Sets of Motown, Carolina beach and classic soul tunes definitely beat setting a bone, which had been quite an issue with his wife after the crash. The only thing crashing at the show was a glass of wine at the drummer’s daughters’ table.

  • Bread

That table included our cousins from Raleigh. The more life throws at you – our family has suffered much worse than a broken bone in the last eight months – the more you appreciate quality time with loving family, especially those members you don’t see very often. What a weekend, made sweeter by young cousins. Be young, be foolish, be happy. We’ll be more careful, too.

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Selfie with the singer

Old School… But School Is Out

28 Jun

An electrician recently informed us that one of our circuit breakers was produced by a company that went out of business in 1954. A landscaper said he hadn’t used railroad ties in more than a decade when I mentioned them as a project possibility. Our next door neighbor asked if we owned a cassette tape player.

Then our daughter admitted that she was the only one using poster board during a project presentation day at school. That was around the same time my godchild announced her college choice.

All of this happened in a matter of just a few days. I’d love to pass myself off as being old school, but lately I’m just feeling old.

At least I don’t watch Fox News! If you check presidential job approval polls broken down by generation, you can see that people are no longer getting wiser with age.

But maybe there still are some benefits that come with our advancing years. A national survey of 20,000 adults by health insurer Cigna found that the younger generation is lonelier than older generations. Based on something called the “UCLA Loneliness Scale” where a score of 43 or above is considered lonely, Generation Z, born between the mid-1990s and the early 2000s, posted a 48.3, while Millennials came in at 45.3. By comparison, Baby Boomers scored 42.4, and The Greatest Generation, those 72 and above, led the way again with a score of 38.6 on the loneliness scale.

That had me feeling better, but then I remembered that my firstborn daughter turns 10 this year, my sister 40 and my parents hit their 50th wedding anniversary in a couple of months.

I’m feeling old.

human stages of life clipart

clipartxtras.com

MARCH SADNESS: WF, WTF and the What-Ifs

23 Mar
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Good Deacon hoops can sometimes feel like a vintage painting in a museum.

Put a ‘T’ between the W and F, it’s been said many a time during the current Wake Forest basketball depression. The saying is played, unlike the NCAA Tournament for the Deacs in seven of the past eight years.

Wake has posted only two winning seasons since 2010. In the two decades before that, the once-proud program of Tim Duncan and Chris Paul had only one losing season while eclipsing 20 wins 12 times.

Here in yet another missed March Madness, let us move past the WTFs, Deacon Nation… to the What-Ifs.

My top 10 (pre-depression):

10. What if referee Fred Hikel hadn’t ruled that Wake’s successful length-of-the-court inbound pass grazed the Greensboro Coliseum scoreboard with 33 seconds left in the 1975 ACC tourney game against North Carolina?

Just last month, long-time Greensboro New & Record sportswriter and columnist Ed Hardin said, “That pass from [Wake’s Jerry] Schellenberg never touched the scoreboard,” which showed a Deacon lead at the time. The “Scoreboard Call.” And one might wonder where the “Carolina Refs” legend came from. (Actually not here. Read on.)

9. What if the Deacs simply managed to get a shot up with 20 seconds left in a tied 1983 ACC Tournament first round game against N.C. State?

Instead a turnover led to a foul, which led to Wolfpack free throws and a 71-70 loss. That was how the Cardiac Pack started its unbelievable nine-game postseason run to a national title.

8. What if Rodney Rogers had stayed for his senior season, i.e., overlapped with the start of the Tim Duncan Era?

Wake still finished third in the conference the following season without the 1993 ACC Player of the Year.

7. What if instant replay was available for Tim Duncan’s senior year?

The January Maryland and February N.C. State buzzer beaters in Joel Coliseum wouldn’t have been beaters. Absent that really bad luck, the ’97 Deacs definitely finish the regular season better than 22-5, earning them a more advantageous postseason draw.

6. What if Wake hadn’t lost three star sophomores — Jeff Teague, James Johnson and Al-Farouq Aminu were all top 19 NBA draft picks — in 2009 and 2010?

Losing that type of talent will hurt any college basketball program, but Wake was especially in need of stability after unprecedented adversity in the years leading up to those departures.

5. What if Randolph Childress hadn’t been hit with the flu bug before the ’95 Sweet 16 matchup with Oklahoma State?

The ACC Champions’ Final Four hopes were fumbled away by our star guard on the last possession against the Cowboys.

4. What if referee Jim Mills calls a charge instead of a block in the 1957 ACC semifinal against undefeated UNC?

Wake was less than 50 seconds away from ending the historic season of its bitter rival, but instead the Heels’ Lennie Rosenbluth, who’d beat out somebody named Wilt Chamberlain for national player of the year, got the controversial blocking call, the basket and a free throw for a 61-59 win.

3. What if Chris Paul hadn’t left school after his sophomore year?

Instead of essentially no point guard the next year, the Deacs would’ve had the best PG in the nation to go with senior studs Justin Gray, Eric Williams and Trent Strickland, as well as impressive big men Kyle Visser and Chris Ellis.

2. What if Tony Rutland hadn’t wrecked his knee in the 1996 ACC Tournament Championship Game?

Some were comparing the sophomore guard to Ga. Tech’s Stephon Marbury on a team that, despite the injury, still managed to reach an NCAA regional final. Long-time Winston-Salem Journal beat reporter Dan Collins called it “one of the saddest coincidences ever in Wake Forest history,” the backcourt misfortune when the Deacs had the best big man in the land.

1. What if Skip Prosser hadn’t passed away?