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My New Career: Journalism? July 29, 2008

Posted by wintersetruss in Ducks, Humor, News, Personal Experiences.

  Two years ago, I wrote a weekly college football column for an Iowa State University fan website on the Scout network.  It was a piece where I gave the perspective of “Joe SixPack” and reviewed the gameday experience from a seat in the bleachers.  No press pass, no access, no journalism experience, and no talent!  I wrote the column for free, because I wanted to give it a shot & see what I could do.  I did a daily column from the Big 12 Basketball tournament the spring before (March of ’05) where I would come back to the hotel room from the bars at 2 or 3 am and pound out five or six pages on my laptop and send ’em in to the webmaster.  I trusted the HELL out of him to edit out any drunken profanity I might have let slip into the mix in those columns.  I reprised my role when ISU went back to the Big 12 tourney in Dallas in March of ’06, but since ISU lost in the first round, my columns were limited to one that they had to put a “the proprietors of this site do not necessarily agree with all opinions expressed in this article” tag on (at my suggestion, because I said some non-complementary things about the Big 12 conference and the Dallas site).

  I did one SHORT season-ending wrapup on football in early January of ’07, a short midseason basketball piece , and a VERY short report on the Big 12 basketball tourney in Oklahoma City back in March of ’07, and then pretty much retired from that job due to a conflict of opinion with the site’s publisher/owner:  I thought he was an asshole, and he respectfully disagreed (in a VERY assholish way, of course).   I didn’t do any writing last season because I was burnt out on the whole process, but I recently exchanged some emails with a guy who runs an ISU fan website independent of Rivals or Scout (the two big boys in fan websites) networks.  When I mentioned that I might be feeling like bringing the magic pencil back out of retirement, he encouraged me and said that he was a BIG fan of my previous work.  That’s nice to hear, because the owner of the site I used to write for barely even knew that I worked for him (can you call it “working” if you’re not getting paid?  Beats me.) and I even had a Khafka-esque encounter with the “silent partner” of the site at a bar in Oklahoma City where he was doing fan interviews.  I made it 30 minutes through a taped interview with the guy, and then asked him “Hey, are you sure you don’t remember me?  I WRITE FOR YOUR FREAKING WEBSITE, Moron!”  It was…..uncomfortable, to say the least. 

  Anyway, the proprietor of Cyclone Fanatic dot com wants me to join his team.  He’s even offered to pay me to write articles.  This is a mindscrambler:  someone will PAY me to do what I was gonna do for free anyway?  Wow, if I can just find sponsors for my bacon eating, gun collecting and masturbation habits, I’ll be a VERY happy man.

  The format of the old columns was VERY unstructured.  Sort of “Hunter S. Thompson meets…….Hunter S. Thompson’s drunken cousin”.  I would talk about the media attention leading up to the game, the trip to the game with my old college drinking buddies, the tailgating experiences we had, our amateur analysis of the game & the gameday experience, and hip trendy pop-culture references to make me look cool with all the kids.  We had a ratty old stuffed boar’s head that Janis bought at an estate sale for $200 which we mounted on the front of the bus and named “Bobby Trippe” (google the name if you’re curious).  Bobby became a regular part of my columns, as did my old buddies “Hogfarmer”, “Hooter”, “The Fire Marshall”, “Goldie” and “Jethro”.  Luckily our old buddy “Jizz” never made it back from Utah to see any of the games, or else I think the bluenosed owner of the site would have edited my work. 

  The resulting columns are probably going to keep my old tagline (“Putting Lipstick on a Pig”) and be done under my fansite user name (“CYlent Bob”, a witty play on the ISU Cyclones & my alleged resemblance to Gonzo Director Kevin Smith).  I think I’ll be making it to a couple of road games as well this year, and Jeremy from the site tells me that he’s THIS close to getting me a real, honest to God…..PRESS PASS.  A press pass.  In the hands of a man who doesn’t give a damn about furthering his career in the business.  This could be dangerous.  I’m really going to have to try to keep my demons in line at press conferences.  I’d love to be the guy who gets up in a presser to ask “Excuse me, but did you just say that your game plan was right for the situation but that the team didn’t execute properly?  Coach, do we all LOOK retarded?”  I think that asking obvious questions like these would be good if I ran the site myself, but I’m not going to put another guy’s rear end in the frying pan for my lack of diplomacy.  Besides, if you’re gonna ask snarky questions like that, you might as well save up and ask one MONUMENTALY EPIC one, because you’re gonna lose the press pass anyway within 48 hours, so you’d might as well go out as a legend.

  I have no idea what the compensation for these articles will be.  I’m thinking somewhere along the lines of $10 an article or something like that (I still don’t understand internet business models, but I guess I’m just a bricks & mortar kind of guy that way), but I’d probably settle for free parking passes and gas money for road trips.  Janis wants me to take all the money & put it into Baby Moses’ college fund, which is a pretty good idea.  It’s not as if I’ll be making “coke and hookers” sized money anyway, so I’d might as well make it go to a good cause.

  As my bestest fakey interwebthingy buddies, I’ll make sure to keep you all posted on my work.


1. BrewFan - July 29, 2008

I’m looking forward to reading about ISU. We like to keep track of whats going on in the ‘minor leagues’ here in Badger Country™

2. Russ from Winterset - July 29, 2008

“The Minor Leagues”? From a fan of the Big 10/11, that’s a real kneeslapper.

Your head football coach still has a Hawkeye tattoo on his thigh. How effed up is that?

3. Sobek - July 29, 2008

If you’re trying to break into the business, let me offer you a bit of free advice. You just wrote seven full paragraphs that may or may not have been interesting, but which certainly did not involve any pictures or — better yet — video of gruesome sports injuries. You’re going to need to work on your presentation skills just a bit.

But congratulations.

4. sandy burger - July 29, 2008

From now on, whenever discussing anything with Russ, I’ll have to remember to start out with “Strictly off the record…”.

5. Sobek - July 29, 2008

Also, just to put this out there, if anyone hears knows someone who wants to pay people to make silly photoshops of Mr. Potato Head or write interviews with bloggers, shoot me an e-mail.

And on a related subject, if anyone wants to write me a check to finish Alexander Solzhenytsin’s “Gulag Archipelago,” I wont object.

6. Vmaximus - July 29, 2008

Congrats Russ!

7. BrewFan - July 29, 2008

Your head football coach still has a Hawkeye tattoo on his thigh. How effed up is that?

It’s to remind him of whence he came. You know, rags to riches. 🙂

8. Michael - July 29, 2008

someone will PAY me to do what I was gonna do for free anyway?

FWIW: My Dad, a Lutheran preacher, told me that the secret to happiness was to get someone to pay you for what you like to do anyway.

9. Blackiswhite, Imperial Agent Provocateur - July 29, 2008

Cool. A paying gig. Maybe someday you can do it for a Big Ten team!

10. Michael - July 29, 2008

I think Dad was right, BTW. Personally, I love getting paid to have fun.

11. Jas - July 29, 2008

who is that masked man… I think I helped him with his cape in is office once.. but, I swear, I did not touch his tights…

12. Michael - July 29, 2008

I’m also thinking that it’s kind of fun that Russ just spammed my site with the longest main page comment in the history of Innocent Bystanders.

Hey Russ, I love you, you big lug. Thanks for the sausage and the beef.

13. eddiebear - July 29, 2008

Congrats Russ.

If I may offer some unsolicited and very unprofessional advice:

Keep writing the way you did before. Any stat geek can break down the YAC a receiver has, how many second tier tackles a defense makes, or a pitcher’s WHIP, but they lack personality. Trust me, I know. Viva El Birdos and Inside STL dot com are my favorite STL oriented sites, because while they combine the numbers, they write with the flair and personality of a drunken angry fan. And that passion is key.

And humor as well. Look at what the combination of drunken idiocy, passion, and bare levels of knowledge has done for sports sites such as Deadspin, Kissing Suzy Kolber, and Awful Broadcasting.

And if all else fails, just throw up some gratuitous shots of cheerleaders or drunken college girls flashing the camera.

14. Michael - July 29, 2008

Sausage and beef. Oh yeah. I remember my friends.

Some people who could not attend the IB Super Bowl Party made contributions. Like Brewfan,

Then, there is Dave. He showed up with this. Then he ate my food, drank my booze, and left.

15. Michael - July 29, 2008

I think maybe next weekend, if I’m bored, I’ll drive up north and trash Dave’s yard again.

16. Lipstick - July 29, 2008

I feel like such a clod for not sending anything to the IBSBP.

And then my mom, who was going to have her knee replaced that week and decided not to at the last minute, fell the other day and smashed her face badly.

AND I just watched the Alison Kraus (sp?) video that RG posted and it made me cry AND Mr. L left this morning for 6 weeks…..

My point? None really, just whining.

17. Michael - July 29, 2008

AND Mr. L left this morning for 6 weeks…..


It just so happens that I know what it feels like to be spouseless.


18. eddiebear - July 29, 2008

LS: sorry about your mom.

19. Lipstick - July 29, 2008

Thanks Michael and Eddie.

Michael, when will you and Cathy be back together?

20. Lipstick - July 29, 2008

And Eddie, what does you wife think about the Orange Crocs??!

BTW, your daughter looks adorable in the Dutch costume.

21. Michael - July 29, 2008

Michael, when will you and Cathy be back together?

It’s looking like early September. But before then, I can get to Dallas on weekends.


22. eddiebear - July 29, 2008

LS: She bought them for me last year for my B-day. I didn’t even ask for them. She also bought me one of the Hawaiian shirts I have now.

I think she has written me off as a lost cause fashion wise. Instead, she spends most of her time buying clothes for my daughter from some Swedish company named Vincent and that F&cking Hannah Anderson.

And thanks for the kind words about my little one. She also enjoyed the pony rides (I’ll probably post more Crocs-free photos in a day or so). The pony place also had an area to feed goats and sheep. It was so cute watching her scold the older goats and tell them they needed to let the baby goats eat.

23. Michael - July 29, 2008

scold the older goats . . .

Scolding goats at that age? Dude, you are in for a world of hurt when she starts scolding you.

24. Lipstick - July 29, 2008

It’s looking like early September.

Ooo, a long lonely August. Yuck.

But your new house is gorgeous and you’ll be so happy there when she finally arrives. I’ve dubbed it El Castillo.

25. Lipstick - July 29, 2008

Heh, I was just going to write about little girls learning to scold. Well, she’s just looking after the babies, which is hard-wired.

26. Sobek - July 29, 2008

I’m spouseless right now, too. Did the IB spouses send out a mass e-mail or something? Are they having a meeting they didn’t tell us about?

Eddie, if you want some help you can e-mail me all your pictures that show your crocs, and I’ll photoshop something more respectable in their place.

27. Michael - July 29, 2008

That is a really nice offer, Sobek.

I mean, somebody trying to undorkify pictures of Eddie is really doing the Lord’s work, and I thank you for it.

28. Lipstick - July 29, 2008

Did the IB spouses send out a mass e-mail or something?

Ah ha! They are holed up somewhere reading about our misery. And plotting.


29. Lipstick - July 29, 2008

The good news is that Mr L is in Miami and I’ll be joining him soon for 2 weeks.

30. eddiebear - July 29, 2008


Well, when I mow the lawn and then go for a run afterwards, she upbraids me for being “stinky”, and tells me that I need to take a bath right away. She complains that I watch “boring sports”. And when I drop her off at her cousins’ house to play with my niece who is just a few months younger than her, she tells me, as she runs off with her cousin, “Daddy, you may go now.”

I am just happy she knows how to put the word “may” in its proper usage.

31. Mrs. Peel - July 29, 2008

That’s great news, Russ. And I think eddie’s advice about keeping the “angry drunken fan” aspect is good. I always liked AstrosConnection.com a lot better than the “official” website. (AC.com is defunct now, but I think OrangeWhoopass.com is still around. Haven’t been there in ages.) There’s nothing like a good rant from an angry drunk who loves your team just as much as you do.

So, does anyone want to pay me to watch Star Trek: The Next Generation? Or, better yet, pay me to not blog?

32. skinbad - July 30, 2008

You’ve got a good way with words, Russ. You’ll do fine–but good luck anyway.

33. geoff - July 30, 2008

I’m a week away from being spouseless for 2 months. Waaaahhh!

And congratulations, Russ. From what I’ve seen of your previous work, you’ll be in much demand.

34. Mrs. Peel - July 30, 2008

Regarding spouselessness, I just woke up from a dream in which the boy proposed, only to realize it was just a dream. So, screw you guys. *sulks*

35. Dave in Texas - July 30, 2008

LS, sorry about your mom.

El Castillo

I thought Michael just had a vasectomy; didn’t realize it was more involved than that. Sorry dude.

game plan was right for the situation but that the team didn’t execute properly?

My all-time favorite head coach quote, from John McKay, first HC of the Tampa Bay Bucs, who totally sucked in their first season:

Reporter: “Coach, how do you feel about the execution of your offensive line today”?

McKay: “I’m for it”.

*various commiserations for those missing loved ones*

36. eddiebear - July 30, 2008

^McKay also endorsed playing Doug Williams as a rookiw, stating that all a player learns while sitting on the sidelines was how to drink water and hold a clipboard.

37. eddiebear - July 30, 2008

damn. I meant “rookie”.

38. Anonymous - July 30, 2008

What do you mean Dave? The Bucs sucked for 20 years not just the first one! Getting rid of McKay was the best thing they did, I wish they did it 18 years sooner.

39. Vmaximus - July 30, 2008

Oops Anon was me

40. Russ from Winterset - July 30, 2008

eddie, I think the visual image of “Doug Williams as a wookie” would have been priceless.

And I fully intend to bring some Kissing Suzy Kolber influences into my new work at Cyclone Fanatic. At least the parts without profanity…….which means that I can steal three or four words per post.

With my blood sugar issues, I can’t truly be the “drunken angry fan” anymore. But, on the other hand, I could be the “sugared up prediabetic fan” if I down a couple of quarts of Gatorade before sitting down at the computer.

I talked with the site’s owner last night, and he says that the ISU athletic department has some reservations about my “professionalism”. They’re not against me, but he says that the guys in charge of working with blogs and media are really sensitive. I never realized this, but Iowa State University actually has a guy working in the athletic department whose job is to monitor sports-related blogs all day long. That would look interesting on a resume.

I told Jeremy to tell the bigwigs at ISU that Russ knows when to make a joke and when to print the quote verbatim. I think we’ll be OK, but it’s still kind of funny.

41. Jay in Ames - July 30, 2008

That is awesome news, Russ. It’ll be great reading your tomes on CF.

And very diplomatic and nice explanation of the issues with the other Cyclone site. That guy’s attitude has gotten way out of hand. Just make sure to remember us, the little people!

42. Sobek - July 30, 2008

“eddie, I think the visual image of ‘Doug Williams as a wookie’ would have been priceless.”

Okay, time for the Chewbacca song:

What a wookie!

43. Tushar - July 30, 2008

>>scold the older goats . . .

>>Scolding goats at that age? Dude, you are in for a world of hurt when she starts scolding you.

In the kids eyes, what is a father if not an old goat.

44. eddiebear - July 30, 2008


She most certainly has begun that as well.

45. Cathy - July 30, 2008

but, I swear, I did not touch his tights…

You better not have Jas. I gots a Kimber.

46. Cathy - July 30, 2008

El Castillo!


47. Lipstick - July 30, 2008

I’m a week away from being spouseless for 2 months. Waaaahhh!

Wow, 2 months. Why?

And since I’m being nosy, Mrs. Peel, is the boy hinting around about proposing?

48. geoff - July 30, 2008

Wow, 2 months. Why?

I’m going to the Bay Area for a couple of months to do some work. I’ll be back every other weekend, but it’ll still be rife with suckage.

49. Mr Minority - July 30, 2008

I’m going to the Bay Area for a couple of months to do some work.

Be sure and buy some assless leather chaps while you are there, to blend in.

50. Retired Geezer - July 30, 2008

DinT informs us that ALL chaps are assless in 3… 2… 1…

51. sandy burger - July 30, 2008

but it’ll still be rife with suckage.

Yeah, being forced to leave the wonderful Bay Area twice a month would suck pretty bad, all right. My sympathies.

52. Russ from Winterset - July 30, 2008

I can’t believe that nobody’s run with the “Bobby Trippe” reference yet.

53. eddiebear - July 30, 2008

You do mean the Ned Beatty character from “Deliverance”, right?

If so, here goes:

Mizzou in the Big 12 North Football is the redneck. KU is Bobby Trippe.

54. Russ from Winterset - July 30, 2008

You’re a Mizzou fan, right eddie?

I always like partying with Mizzou fans. They’re usually drunken idiots, but they’re MY KIND of drunken idiots, so it’s all good.

55. eddiebear - July 30, 2008

Russ, I like Mizzou, even though I didn’t go there. It’s just been a bit of a wasteland until last year.

Oh, and didn’t Larry Eustachy get in trouble at Mizzou a few years ago going to a party and macking on some Mizzou girls?

56. Mrs. Peel - July 30, 2008

Lips – I have absolutely no idea what he is thinking. 😦

57. sandy burger - July 30, 2008

Not to be a prying busybody, but that’s exactly what I’m gonna be:

Why the rush, Mrs. Peel? You’re young. Why not date for a few more years before you give that sort of thing serious consideration?

So says the single guy in his mid-thirties… 🙂

58. Michael - July 30, 2008

I can’t believe that nobody’s run with the “Bobby Trippe” reference yet.

Dang, you said “Khafka-esque encounter” and nobody ragged on your Iowa hick ass about that pretentious shit either. Consider yourself lucky, Mr. Redneck Farm Boy.

59. Michael - July 30, 2008

Also, there is no “h” in the name of Franz Kafka, after whom the surreal experience is named. I looked it up. Kafka was a lawyer who worked for an insurance company.

I’m in a surly mood tonight.

I don’t like being spouseless.

60. Michael - July 30, 2008

I think I’ll go get a cheeseburger at Papa’s. That’s pretty much been my diet lately, unless I cook for myself.

61. Mrs. Peel - July 30, 2008

sandy, you have to remember that women have a much shorter shelf life than men when it comes to attractiveness (and reproduction, for that matter).

62. Lipstick - July 30, 2008

Lips – I have absolutely no idea what he is thinking.

hmmmm. It’s been about a year and a half now, right? That’s not excessive, not the sort of “we’ve been dating 7 years and he won’t commit” thing.

You’re showing independence by buying your own house, so no clinginess on your part. And he knows you love, adore and admire him, I presume.

One thing is that I don’t think women compliment their men enough. We think they don’t “need” it, but they do and if you love your man, make him feel good about himself.

That’s my pompous, unsolicited thought of the evening.

63. Mrs. Peel - July 30, 2008

2 years next week, actually…

hmm, good thinking. I will throw in some compliments this weekend.

64. Lipstick - July 30, 2008

Let him know you admire him.

Unless you don’t, hehe.

65. Michael - July 30, 2008


Men desperately want to feel admired by their women, meaning, wife and daughters. It is some kind of genetic defect we have.

66. geoff - July 31, 2008

It’s a feature, not a bug.

67. Sobek - July 31, 2008

Mrs. Sobek is very good with the compliments. She’s really the perfect wife.

68. sandy burger - July 31, 2008

women have a much shorter shelf life than men when it comes to attractiveness

I strongly disagree.

(and reproduction, for that matter).

OK, true enough.

69. Russ from Winterset - August 1, 2008

You wanna talk about a Kafkaesque situation? How about driving all day from Iowa to Ohio and having a lawyer you’ve never met before greet you at the door while wearing a batman fetish mask? That Kafkaesque enough for you?

(I don’t know why I keep putting an “h” into his name. I’ve always made that mistake. I’ve got to try to remember that he was European, not Arabic.)

70. Sobek - August 1, 2008

“That Kafkaesque enough for you?”

Kafkaesque is more about paranoia of indiscernable government and social forces, possibly as religious metaphors. What you described is more Carrollesque. Maybe Hunter-Thompson-esque, depending on what you had in your bloodstream at the time.

71. Michael - August 1, 2008

That Kafkaesque enough for you?

I thought that was sort of a romantic, touching moment.

72. eddiebear - August 1, 2008

^touching indeed.

73. Russ from Winterset - August 2, 2008

Sobek, now that I think about it, it’s more like something from that guy who wrote “Naked Lunch”. Either that, or a Jim Thompson novel (that old John Cusack movie “The Grifters” was based on one of his novels).

74. Sobek - August 2, 2008

I never saw Naked Lunch or the Grifters.

I recently watched A Man for All Seasons. It was superbly done. I kept watching John Hurt’s character and thinking “yeah, well an alien chestburster is going to kill him in an excruciatingly horrible scene, so it all works out in the end.”

Other recent movies:

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with Kevin Kline, Callista Flockhart, Michelle Pfeiffer, Rupert Everett, Christian Bale, Stanley Tucci, etc. The production was great, other than the inexplicable decision to set the thing in Italy but still refer to everyone as Athenians. (Maybe they were banking on the audience not knowing where Athens is?) The acting was uneven: Stanley Tucci’s Puck was great; Rupert Everett was too subdued even for Oberon; Flockhart and Pfeiffer both looked the part, but couldn’t get the dialogue to come out right (no easy task, I’ll grant). Contrast that with…

Much Ado About Nothing, with Kenneth Branagh and an all-star cast. Great production again, but I would expect nothing less from Kenneth. He does a terrific job of getting his actors to coax natural-sounding dialogue out of unnatural text (exceptions: Denzel Washington and Keanu Reeves). For the life of me I can’t figure out why Branagh cast a black man as Don Pedro and a white man as Pedro’s brother; I would have overlooked that, except that the decision also resulted in Keanu Reeves doing Shakespeare. Not even Branagh is talented enough to make that work. The other performances were good, especially Emma Thompson – from whom I expected nothing less – and Branagh himself, who had me laughing out loud in places.

The moral is that if you are going to watch a Shakespeare film, it’s hard to wrong with Branagh. He did As You Like It with freakin ninjas in it and made it work.

Paradise Now, a 2005 film about two Palestinian suicide bombers assigned to attack soldiers in Tel Aviv. I rented it to practice my Arabic. The movie was panned in the conservative blogosphere, so I assume most conservative blog readers never saw it, so I won’t bother with a review. It’s a very complicated movie.

The Other Boleyn Girl, with Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson. Extremely well done, even if I could never buy Portman and Johansson as sisters. I love historical pieces.

75. Retired Geezer - August 2, 2008

I’m not a big Shakespeare kinda dude. (Hey, remember I’m from Idaho…. helllloooo).

But I sure liked the Mel Gibson version of Hamlet.

76. eddiebear - August 2, 2008

Though long, I loved the Branagh version of Hamlet set in 19th Cent. Denmark. My only beef: it appeared as though the movie put too many celebrities in cameo roles (Billy Crystal? Robin Williams? Jack Lemmon?) just to have them in the movie.

The Branagh version of “Love’s Labours Lost” was good when everybody but Branagh or the King of Navarre were not on the screen. C’mon. Alicia Silverstone? Matthew Lillard? Watching the girl from Clueless and Shaggy sing Shakespeare made me want to drown my sorrows in alcohol.

I recall watching BBC version of “Othello” with Anthony Hopkins as The Moor, and Bob Hoskins as Iago. Awesome. And the Branagh/Fishburne screen version was top notch as well.

77. Cathy - August 2, 2008

Own the Grifters. Intense movie. Excellent acting.

Not for everybody.

78. Mrs Peel - August 2, 2008

I love Branagh’s Hamlet. I still have never seen Hamlet played live…

Branagh also plays Gilderoy Lockhart, and he made me laugh a lot in that role.

79. BrewFan - August 2, 2008

Shakespeare sucks. If you want to see a good movie, see West Side Story or Ran. The plots are brilliant.

80. Retired Geezer - August 2, 2008

*Geezer pokes BrewFan playfully in the ribs*

81. skinbad - August 2, 2008

My daughter had a free Red Box coupon that was going to expire in a day. I was given the task of choosing on my work commute. The only thing that looked “kiddish” that I was pretty sure they hadn’t seen was “Lenny the Wonder Dog.” And why are kids so set on dad watching it with them? Review: if your choice is Lenny or repeatedly catching your privates in your zipper, I have to say it’s not a clear-cut decision.

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