March 2010 Archives

10 things

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1. Keith's family, our friends, and our own friendship will be affected by interviews and the way i write this.

2. The way we look at Keith and our relationship with him and each other may be affected.

3. I'm writing this because I think it's a story that needs to be told and appreciated.

4. U of M Administration and professors, Dakota County Drug Task Force, Minneapois Police Department, lawyers, SWAT

5. Depends on who I'm interviewing but detailed accounts of specific events.

6. Need to research background considerable amounts, and trials.

7. I can go to Keith's house, school, and they gym..where he always is.

8. A lot of background and legal stuff.

9. Maybe I can write myself in or our of it more. Keep it humorous when possible, write Keith's humorous outlook into the story.

10. I'm not real sure what I want this story to turn out like, but I know that I want to reveal him as a person.

My story on a sea creature

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I have invested a bit of time shadowing the main cog in my story, a former student who is now making a solid income as a poker player. I spent nearly an entire weekend watching him play - or 'grind' as he puts it - online. I also made one trip to Black Bear and attempted to watch him play cards at Black Bear Casino, but thanks to an incident that occurred when he entered the poker room, he did not play that night. I also got what I consider to be a 'behind the scenes' look at a weekend dedicated to live poker. I watched him play at Running Aces in Forest Lake until nearly 7 a.m. one night, then went with him to a dorm room on the Hamline University campus, where he got just under eight hours of recovery sleep. I then went with him to a popular sandwich shop and conducted a semi-formal interview on his philosophy on poker, as well as the lack of a steady income and what effects that has on his life. I then watched the first few hours of his second night (of three straight) at the card table.

1. There are not a lot of people affected by this story. I suppose people who frequent casinos and play cards would be affected, especially those sitting in the same games as the 'rounder' I'm shadowing.

2. The other players at the table are those most affected by the story, mainly because a lot of them are collateral damage from one person's mission to make money. The different dealers at the casinos and card rooms frequented by the star of my story are also affected, as they make money when players at the table make money (via tips).

3. I'm writing this because I am intrigued by the situation facing anyone aiming to be a rounder. Regardless of ability, every player seems to go through hot and cold streaks, and I'm interested to know how someone can explain wanting to live with such uncertainty. I also could try to link the story to the current state of the economy, since many people may abstain from gambling with less disposable income available. Does this affect a card shark? How?

4. The bureaucrats are the main authority figures at the casinos, and to an extent the dealers. The dealers are charged with keeping order at the table, which I've noticed can be a difficult task. People tend to get a little bitter when they see their money get shipped off to another player, and some nasty verbal exchanges can take place as a result. The dealers and pit bosses end up being the ones in control, and I've learned they seem to have the ability to make rulings and judgments on the spot.

5. What, if any discomfort results from being having an undefined income? Are rounders more prevalent in other states? Is there any way to know someone is a rounder based on appearance? Is online poker legal?

6. In light of what took place at Black Bear, I need to conduct some research about the responsibilities of casinos. I'll need to dig through written laws pertaining to gambling and possibly get in touch with the state gambling commission for answers. I also may need to research numbers on the poker industry in Minnesota and perhaps nationwide, not so much for the body of my story but as statistics to speak about how many people are playing. Any number I compile can also be thrown in there to show how common or rare profiting players are.

7. As was stated I've already gone to two casinos and my main source's house to get a close-up of the action. The only other place I could go to see this rounder at work would be one of the many home games I (cough) suspect my source plays in, but I', guessing access to that sort of thing would/will be a problem.

8. More than anything I'm missing solid interviews with other players sitting at tables with the star of my story. I also think I'm missing expert testimony from someone who works in the gambling industry about the existence of rounders in Minnesota.

9. To be creative I planned on getting a close look at my source's life away from the table. By that I mean I want to see what his typical day is like, if he has one. What luxuries has poker afforded him? Is his day-to-day life different when he comes off of a winning session? I want to weave back and forth from big hands and life at the table to what a normal day is like for this kid. I want to do my best Michael Lewis impression as far as staying away from chronological order goes, and bouncing back-and-forth from interview settings to the play-by-play of the poker action.

10. My vision is to shed some light on the world of professional gambling. I want the reader to get a feel for what kind of person it takes to forego employment in favor of a risky option like poker. I also want the reader to pick up some of the quirky details I've come away with, such as the entire 'poker language' that seems to exist and how quickly winning players must label their opponents. More than anything I want to produce a detailed story about a person I can't figure out, and connect the fact that this person cannot be understood, which is probably what makes him money playing cards.

New direction, same idea

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My story has changed a lot since we first started. No longer is it going to be a travel log, due to unfortunate spring break circumstances. Now, I am going to follow around an employee of Hell's Burgers, who is known as being a "character." I am going in early next week to spend a shift with her, and hope the story will blossom from there.
1. Who are the people affected?
coworkers, customers, personal acquaintances
2. How are people affected?
I think people will be affected by her role in their lives. I want to get interviews with people who see her every day and in different situations.
3. Why are you writing this?
We see interesting people all the time at restaurants, but usually don't know what they're really like. I want to get a glimpse into this woman's life, and see what makes her tick.
4. Who are the bureaucrats?
Her managers. If she is well known enough throughout the company the restaurant owner would be a bureaucrat as well.
5. What are the key questions?
The key will be finding out what makes her unique and special, the effect she has on people in contact with her. I need to find out why she does what she does. Specific questions will be formed when I spend time with her, and see what she's all about.
6. What research must you do?
I would like to find out more about Hell's Kitchen/Burgers in general, to know what they are looking for when they hire someone. I need to spend time with her inside and out of work.
7. Where can you go?
I can go to the restaurant, her home, and wherever she goes in her free time.
8. What are you missing?
At the moment, pretty much everything. I think the key will be to really find out what makes her who she is. I'd like the story to evolve from the time I spend with her.
9. How can you be creative?
I think I'll really be able to get creative with the structure of the story. I plan on having a few main scenes-at work, at home, etc. that will leave me many options for how I want to put it together.
10. What is your vision?
I plan for the story to show another side of the person, that an average customer would perhaps be curious about but would never find out otherwise.

Tough read, side bars are a little over the top

I must admit... I did not read the entire piece by Mr. Wallace. I did not find his writing to be bad, I just felt that his odd manner of highlighting a phrase or singular word was very peculiar. The sidebars throughout gave the piece detail, but it was a little bit of an overload. It was very annoying to stop and read these paragraphs describing "apocolyptic glee", or "peaking". It just was not something I was accustomed to reading. Like I said, I did not finish the piece, so maybe my argument carries no weight. But those are my thoughts.

Relationship and Love story update

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I have interviewed Cameron and Pearl Kaspari, as well as Matt Memmen and Maria Tinebra. I have read one book pertaining to love.

I plan on interviewing Dr. Chongwon Park about his definition of "Love". I also will be doing a follow up with Cameron and Pearl, watching them interact in their own lives.

I believe this story can affect anyone who wants to know how to make it in a relationship in this world.

I plan to center my piece around the Kasparis and also tie in some research and other information about love.

A Drastic Turn

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So I have done a couple interviews for my lacrosse story. I have even taken good notes through different steps of the season and trips we have taken. When we played Michigan, I even got to take a couple minutes with their coach, and the MCLA (Men's Collegiate Lacrosse Association) president John Paul. After some diliberation this weekend and Hatcher's advice, I don't think this is the story to write for this class, although I believe I could write it just fine, it's not going to work. So im taking a drastic turn and this is what im thinking so far...

I want to write about Uncle Louis Cafe, most every college student knows about this place as a excellent place for breakfast after a good time the night before. Some know of the fire that burned the Cafe down in 2007. Owner Penny Briddell got so many letters from residents to reopen that she was inclined to. She will probably be the main source of my story, the twist will be the fire, how things were pre/post burn down.

I have only done some preliminary research and eaten ate the resteraunt numerous times. The staff is very friendly and the prices are very reasonable. If this is the direction I am going to go I will try to set up multiple times for me and Penny to sit down and talk. I will also be spending a lot of time eating french toast in the upcoming weeks...what a terrible job...

This is what I know so far...

1. The main "character" in my story will be the Owner Penny. It will not be a profile of her. I want to have background on the Cafe and some of it's history come to the forefront of the story as well. Other will be other staff members and well as people who eat at the place How it has changed since the incident.

2. The part in the story that will effect the forementioned is the fire. I want to know how the place was before and how it is now. I hope that the readers enjoy the hard work of the Staff and people who were instrumental in rebuilding the Cafe.

3. I love the food at Uncle Louis, that may be C.A. blah blah. That is fine. Uncle Louis is a very well known landmark in Duluth and has been for a long time. I am writing it because a incident like the whole damn thing burning down couldn't stop them from making great food at great prices.

4. Ovbiously Penny is the main bureaucrat for the story. Since it is not a franchise just a single resturaunt, she is in charge of everything and she works very hard. I think the hardest thing will be getting her comfortable with me. Im hoping she will lead me to others.

5. There are many key questions but since I am focusing on the fire...

What has changed since then?
What happened that night? (incidental fire)
What is the history of ULC?
Why is it so popular?

6. I am going to need to learn about all of the workings of the cafe. I know that its hours are limited and closes either at or before 2 every day. The menu is breakfast and lunch only, which I find interesting. I am going to need to research Penny's rise to owner.

7. To ULC, Over and over again. I will hopefully go to her house and she what her home life is like, as well as some others from the cafe, because I believe the head cook works every hour every day and is another huge part of its success. I don't know if this would be allowed but I was thinking I could take a look at the files at the Police Department from the fire.

8. Right now im missing everything, but have a lot of fun work ahead of me. (-1 point)

9. I want my piece to not sound like a special interest piece about the cafe, although im sure my love for the people and food may shine through a little bit. I think i will write the story pre/post fire and that may add some creativity to the story.

10. My vision is to write a non-biased piece about a great small town establishment. I know Penny is very nice because she knows half the regular students by name and always gives great service. I want to educate people about the incident and show how the resturaunt has overcome this almost tragic fire.

A lot of spelling errors in this entry. (-1 point)

Lakewalk, first draft


Amy Norris, employed by Duluth Parks and Recreation, told me that in the 1980's the first phase of the Lakewalk, located on the lakeside shore of Canal Park to 27th Avenue East, was constructed along with Interstate 35 in Downtown Duluth. Before the construction of Interstate 35, Canal Park and the lakeshore was mostly warehouses, small scale industry, a railroad yard, and junkyards. The lakeshore was only used by ordinary people for sports fishing, swimming, teenage drinking, and illegal dumping. With limited access to the lakeshore, far fewer people visited the lakeshore than they do today.

During the 1980's, communities of all sizes and all over the world were rediscovering their waterfronts. Following this trend, Duluth city planners revised a one-hundred-year-old idea to create a world class park on the lakeshore side on Canal Park. Thus, city planners applied and obtained Federal Enhancement Grant Money to build this project that was part of the 1986 Downtown Duluth Waterfront Plan that proposed the Lakewalk, along with a number of other enhancements to improve the quality of life for Duluth citizens.

City planners used the grant money to use waste rock, created by building the Interstate tunnels, to greatly extend the lakeshore and create the first phase of the Lakewalk. Without the waste rock, the city of Duluth could not have afforded to extend the lakeshore and therefore build the Lakewalk. Just notice where the shoreline is in relationship to the concrete wharf known as Uncle Harvey's Mausoleum in photos before and after the Lakewalk was constructed. It is a common practice to extend shorelines with waste rock from nearby construction projects.

According to the Duluth Parks and Recreation web site, Duluth's Lakewalk official southern end at Bayfront Festival Park. However, some maps show the southern end as the intersection of Morse Street and Canal Park Drive. This part of the trail has an entrance gate and the "Determined Mariner" statue. The Lakewalk now actually ends at 47 Avenue East, but for some reason the Parks and Recreation web site as well as Goggle Maps have not been updated and still show the trail's northern end at 27th Avenue East.

The technical terms used by architects and city planners to describe the Lakewalk is a Liner Park or Greenway, and is classified as a recreational and non-motorized transit path. The trail from Bayfront Festival Park to Canal Park is on concrete sidewalks. The Canal Park section of the Lakewalk could be unique in the world in having three trails running in the same corridor.

The first trail is a seven-foot wide boardwalk; intended for pedestrians starts at Canal Park and ends the Fitgers Inn pedestrian bridge. The boardwalk is constructed of an extremely durable hardwood known as Ipe. The second trail is ten foot wide asphalt trail, intended for bicyclists and rollerbladers southern end is at Canal Park and the northern end is at 47th Avenue East. The third trail is a twelve-foot wide gravel path for carriage rides.

Along the Lakewalk are information kiosks, parking lots, the International sculpture garden, and memorial benches. Amy Norris told me that someone can purchase a Lakewalk memorial bench for $2.500 dollars. I consider that a good price for something that tens of thousands of people will enjoy for about sixty years.

Opened in 1988, the Lakewalk attracts more than one million trail visitors each year. The Lakewalk is a world class showcase for a city to make an asset of what was not so long ago underused industrial property. The Lakewalk has become a signature draw and icon for the city of Duluth. It plays an important role in keeping Duluth citizens healthy, while giving them a safe path to bicycle or walk to downtown employment. Currently, this section of the trail is now 6.2 miles long.

People can rent bicycles at the Can Park Lodge and from Wheel Fun Rentals.

The Lakewalk section between 27th Avenue East and 36th Avenue East, with an expensive 125- foot bridge over Tischer Creek was completed in 2008. The 36th to 47th section was completed in 2009.

In the near future, a Lakewalk extension will be built from 47th Avenue East to 60th Avenue East in 2010. City planners hope to extend the Lakewalk to Brighton Beach in 2011. City planners have not yet decided upon a bridge or tunnel will span Highway 61.

From March until November, I often bicycle or walk on the Lakewalk, often doing so once each day.

Update on my story idea....

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1) The people who are affected in this story are people who have gone on trips with families and are growing up and realizing the importance of family, but also the changes that people go through as they get older.
2) People might be affected, because they might of done the same thing or even if they have not gone on another family trip they know what it is like to grow up and that everyone are at different stages in their lives and it is not as simple and the same as when we were younger.
3) I am writing this to share an experience that my family and I had. We went on the same kind of trip that we went on when we were younger. I find it cool that even though we are all old we came together despite where we are in life and went on what may be the last real family trip.
4) I am not really sure who the bureaucrats are in my story yet, but I guess they could in a way be my parents. Even though my brother, sister and I are all adults what my parents said on the trip still affected us, just not like it did when we were younger.
5) Some of the key questions are: How has it changed since we went when we were younger? What is it like to bring your kids who are now adults on a trip and not have them be little anymore? What was different about this trip? What did you like? What did you find interesting about it? Was it more difficult to find a time to go on the trip now that everyone is older?
6) Some research I might do was figure out what year exactly we went to Disney when we were younger and see what was different during that year, from this year. Also, research how the prices have changed since going...
7) Well I will basically be talking to my family so I will be able to talk to my parents at home and go to my brothers house to talk to him. If I want to talk to people from Disney I am going to have to call, but to get the stories on who it mostly involves, I can go straight to the sources.
8) I think I am missing how I am going to put this all together...I still need to work on making it a good hook...
9) I can be creative by trying to find the interesting stories and twist that occurred on our trip.
10) I guess my vision is for it to be a narrative story about my family and I and the comparison of our trip when we were younger to now. I feel like it can be really entertaining and interesting. I just need to find how to get everything out and really get the important details.

I have talked to my dad and mom a little about their feelings on this trip compared to the other, but I still need to write down more of an interview from them. I think I have what I want to do I just need to start writing the draft, even if the first one is going to be horrible. I started writing it when I got back, but I felt like it was going nowhere, so I just need to sit down and go for it.


I liked how the Wallace piece was unlike most of those we have read. He manages to teach more about the radio industry then a piece of normal Narrative Nonfiction we have read. He uses shading to show more important pieces of information. Side boxes are also used to tell subscripts or documents and stories etc. There were many different characters from different places. He takes John Zielger and shows his personality to the reader. What he does for a job and how radio works. There was a lot going on some of the pages it was hard to keep focused on the main text. I enjoyed how he used these subtexts to give the reader direction. He used everything he had at his disposal to tell and also teach a story of Ziegler and the Louisville radio as well as the numerous other radio jobs he has had.


I liked how the Wallace piece was unlike most of those we have read. He manages to teach more about the radio industry then a piece of normal Narrative Nonfiction we have read. He uses shading to show more important pieces of information. Side boxes are also used to tell subscripts or documents and stories etc. There were many different characters from different places. He takes John Zielger and shows his personality to the reader. What he does for a job and how radio works. There was a lot going on some of the pages it was hard to keep focused on the main text. I enjoyed how he used these subtexts to give the reader direction. He used everything he had at his disposal to tell and also teach a story of Ziegler and the Louisville radio as well as the numerous other radio jobs he has had.

I hope this story doesn't leave me stranded.


I am still toting around this stranded car stunt. It has potential, but given that I have an undying faith in the potential of every story, it might in reality be a dog. Hopefully it will not be too late in the game when I find out which one it is.

1 and 2.. People affected - anyone who drives on a road. That sounds snide, but seriously, the strength of this story is that it is a circumstance that could hardly be more widely identified with. This story has an even greater effect on the people who stop and help me (assuming they will). How this will affect them (positive or negative) remains to be seen.. eek. How it will affect the reader, if the story goes smoothly, is that the reader will become more aware of the perspective of that stranded person on the road.

3. Why - Human interest. No, im not planning on trying it to some current events application. It would simply be fun to read about this experience.

4. Bureaucrats - HUGE issue for this story. I spoke with a Bryce Bogenholm, a Carlton County sheriff, and he said that parking a functional vehicle on the side of the highway is traditionally frowned upon, but officers address it in a case by case basis. If you are a safety hazard, you will be asked to move, in which case it becomes illegal to stay. As long as I have a persuasive pitch prepared for the police personnel, he thinks I should be OK.

5. Key questions - WHY did you stop?? Have you ever stopped for a stranded car before? What reasons would you have for NOT stopping? Have you ever been stranded?

6. Research - The story needs some sort of nut graf, possibly some statistics about stranded cars, towing, highway accidents, etc...

7. Where - Get my butt on the highway. My car has been broken for 2 weeks, and I am finally getting a new one tonight (tuesday). Since a car is rather essential to a stranded car stunt, I have just recently become capable of taking this to the next step.

8. Missing - See #7. I have a pretty clear idea of what I want the story to turn out like. That might be detrimental to my story, because stories are usually better when left to grow and metamorphasize on their own, without direction from my preconceived preferences.

9. This story thrives on creativity. Paint a picture. Create a character. Evoke an emotion. Abuse the freedom of narrative style.

10. I really want to paint an entertaining picture of the perspective of a stranded motorist. I am convinced it has potential, but I have this gut feeling that there are way too many ways for it to fall short of the ideal, and that anything short of the ideal will be a lame imitation of greater works.

The Peace Bell

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So I guess I am a little behind. My first interview isn't until Thursday morning. It is with Melissa Kadlec, the director the Duluth Sister Cities organization. I am going to do my story on the Peace Bell, which is a bell that a group of U.S.soldiers took from Ohara, Japan during WWII. It was in Duluth for about 40 years before it was returned to Japan. The city of Ohara gave Duluth a replica in return which now sits in Enger Park near the tower.
I want to perhaps touch on the role this played in rectifying the relationship between two countries torn apart by war. I don't know who my second interview will be, but hopefully Melissa will have some suggestions.

My story process

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1.) The people affected in my story are the readers as well as the subjects of the story I suppose? I'm writing about how I opened the Duluth phone book and at random chose a name. The woman I found was Jill Lyman. After she agreed to meet with me I found out that she lives with her husband Bob. At first she explained that she didn't think her life was that interesting but after I interviewed her, I came to realize she had a unique and interesting life story. She spoke candidly about recently finding out that her daugher, 26, was gay and how growing up Jill never really knew. She told me about her process of making sure her daughter knows that she is accepted into the family just as she always was, as well as rediscovering her own religion and what is important in her life. Jill talked about how her and her daughter are also in the process of creating a children's book and someday publishing it.

2.) People may be affected if they themselves or know someone who has had to come out to their families after years of keeping it a secret. I want to tell the story of someone who didn't think had one. I want to prove that everyone has a story, big or small. And no two stories are the same. People are unique.

3.)I'm writing a story about this because it's a challenge for me. I like how I didn't know who this lady would be or how she would react to me wanting to interview her or ask her candid questions about her life. While she was reluctant at first, she really opened up to me and was excited about being able to share her story.

4.) The beaureaucrats in my story? I think talking to Jill's daughter to get her perspective would be the next step. Bob Lyman as well, or possibly Jill's daughter's life partner?

5.) My key questions I need to ask are so what? I need to explain this story in a way that is relevant to readers. It's a human interest story and I want myself to be in it as little as possible.

6.) The research needed now would be more interviews with the Lyman family. I think the more people I talk to affiliated with the family, the richer the story would become.

7.) I can call the family over the phone again but meeting in person was really helpful the first time so I'm going to shoot for that again.

8.)I'm missing more interviews, especially the daughter's perspective on this story.

9.) I think my story is creative in that I am telling the story of a random person. I called a name from the phonebook and said, could you meet with me and tell me your story?" Instead of hanging up on me and thinking I was a weirdo, she was genuinely interested and was more then willing to share her life's story with me.

10.) My vision: a human interest piece talking about Jill and Bob's transition into their 50's and finding what truly matters to them: reading, finding their faith, and accepting their daughter who was brave enough to finally come out to them just 3 years ago. I want to write about what is next for the family including what their newfound hobbies are: (yoga, meditation, and creating art)

Story Update

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Honestly, I'm still pretty clueless as to what final form my story will take; but I have gotten the ball rolling on talking to some relevant people. I'm still going with the fastpitch softball story and I have an interview set up with Bob Nygaard, UMD sports info. director and former softball player, tomorrow. I'm hoping to not only conduct a good interview with him, but to gain access to countless other former players as well, since I'm pretty sure he knows everyone related to any sport in the Twin Ports. I've also left a few messages with the softball league's director, Brett Koslowski, but haven't heard back--I'm hopeful Bob will help bring us together. On to the handout...

1. People Affected- As a historical piece, the people affected will be those supplying their memories of the league. I'm hoping to not only get to the bottom of why men's softball fizzled out, but also paint a picture of what the 'glory days' of the league may have looked like. I'm hopeful that this will be a fun story that the former, and current, softballers will get a kick out of.

2. How are people affected- Hopefully, this will get some people thinking about men's fastpitch at a time when the sport could use some attention. Ideally, this story would be read by a lot of people and remind them that softball isn't just a "girl's sport," both sexes played in softball's hey-day.

3. Why am I writing this- Because I want to write an untold sports story and I think the history, and future, of softball in Duluth is an untold story. This story is important because people seem to have forgotten that grown men used to play softball very competitively, but still for fun. The misconception that I used to have, and others probably still do, is that softball is only played by high school girls.

4. Bureaucrats- Honestly, I don't know if any bureaucrats will be involved. Nygaard is sort of an authority figure, but I don't think he's played the game for years. Klosowski is probably the closest person to a "bureaucrat" but only because he's the league's director--he still plays for the love of the game however. Perhaps as the story unfolds a parks and rec official would be appropriate to interview, but as of now I'm not sure.

5. Key questions- How did you (any interview subject) get involved with fastpitch softball? How many teams existed at the league's apex? What led to the sport's slow downfall? Is there any hope for a revival? Were there intense rivalries or was it simply for fun? How does one learn to fast-pitch? What did a league title mean? Were there state or national tournaments to advance to? Who were the league's stars? What separates a baseball player from a fast-pitch player? and most importantly--Who should I talk to next?

6. Research- Most of the research for this story will come from interviews. I will try to find information online--and there is some--but to my knowledge most Duluth history is contained only in the memories of local players.

7. Where should I go- First, I'm going to Bob Nygaard's office and I hope to use that as a springboard to finding more people to speak with. After that, I plan to travel. If a source wants to meet at home, the office or Perkin's I suppose I will meet them there.

8. What's missing- A lot is still missing. This story is only beginning to grow. Hopefully I do well in the opening interviews, because they're with the most "bureaucratic" types. After the initial stages I hope to have mastered and weeded out the questions that are best to ask and which questions are less helpful.

9. How can I be creative- That's a good question. I suppose the creativity in this story will be to make it one that non-sports fans are interested in. In my writing, I like to tell fun stories. Hopefully this piece will allow me to do that, but this is a question I probably need to consider more deeply.

10. My vision- To tell a story that encapsulates what this league meant to those that played in it. To tell a story that portrays why the league is dying, and why the sport itself is as well. And to tell where the game is headed from here. I hope the details work themselves out through the interview process, a lot of these questions are starting worry me slightly now that it's coming time to actually be a reporter again. I'm sure everything will work out, but there are nerves nonetheless.

Hopefully not another dead end...

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I have been having a MESS of trouble with keeping a topic for this assignment. Every time I would start something, it would lead to a dead end; either "contaminated access" or "so what?" So I think I have found something now that I'm hoping will work out.

For many students and Duluth residents, riding the DTA is just a small part of their every day lives and their DTA driver is just another face in the crowd. Except for one driver. Most students know him as "the nice guy who drives the 18." I'm not even sure what his real name is yet, but my plan as of now is to do a profile on this extraordinary bus driver who always makes a point to smile and say hello or thank you or have a nice day to every singe passenger. I don't have any interviews yet, but I plan on talking to the driver himself, obviously, as well as frequent route riders and fellow DTA drivers. My overall goal is to see why this driver is so different than the rest and what makes him that way. Keeping my fingers crossed....

Zig Man

I know everyone else didn't like the footnotes, but I really did. The footnotes served the same purpose as hypertext in blogs, but it was in print. I thought that was innovative. It allowed the author to editorialize and dig deeper by giving background information. His editorial comments were great, most of the time they were along the same lines of my thought. When he corrected him (in a footnote) while on the phone with Daryl I cracked up. This author didn't get Sam Cook's advice about throwing out material even if it was good.

Action and Reaction

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1). My room mate and basically anyone involved with the Lake Superior College dental program are. Also it reaches to those who are involved in this type of process at places like the main U or trying to get into like law or medical school. It's a process that happens a lot and it's interesting to hear why people go through it.
2). They might learn about a program that they are looking into joining or perhaps something one had in mind and after learning about what it truly means to 'be' in a program like this they might change their mind. Also they can learn about a place to have their dental work done that and what clinic all entails; it's not just students learning.
3). I am writing this because when my room mate didn't get in for the second time, she was a wreak. She is still very upset that she isn't in the program and as bad as I felt for her I had to wonder if she is the only one. Of course she isn't. There are people that haven't gotten into the program after waiting for years on the two year waiting list and in that time I wondered: what do they do? do they put their life on hold? go after another major?
4) Some would be the instructors of the program, the 'list holder', the secretary of the clinic, the dentists that volunteer their time and services to the clinic.
5) How many people are on the list; who gets in a what allows them in; what do they do once they get in; what is the average wait time on the list; who is on the list; what do the people on the list do while they wait; what are problems with the list system; what changes are going to happen with the new health care bill; how will that affect the program (if it does); what is the success rate of the program; what are options for program completers. Some of these have been answered as I was able to tour the clinic with one of the students and talk with her and an instructor, as well as two students performing their tasks.
6) I would like to obviously talk to the lady who is in charge of the program and the list (they are two different people). Also I want to talk to the officials at UMD about the changing of the program to this different school and what they lost by changing it instead of simply making it a four year program.
7). I can go to the offices at both schools to find specific names of people in charge of programs and people who were in charge of the switching decision. i am also talking to as many people on AND off the list as I can to find out what it was like being on the list and then finally getting off the list and into the program. Also talking to people that are about to graduate from the program and what they are planning to do.
8). I have the name of the list holder and plan on talking to her this week. Also I desperately want to talk to the dentists that volunteer their time to teaching in the program and what they look for in students graduating from programs like these; also where they see the profession going.
9). This is where I am struggling. I am not sure what is going to make this story interesting. Writing it in like a numbered list or any type of list form would make it different but I don't want to make it difficult for people to read. This aspect I need definite help with.
10). My vision is that this story will start off with a person who is on the list right now and is having quite the experience getting onto the list; something has happened that is causing her to wait longer that what is forcasted. Then to talk about girls who have been accepted into theprogram and what their list expereicne was like and what they are doing now that they are in it, and some of them are preparing to finish it. After i talk about what they are looking forward to, i would talk about the doctors and what they are looking for and what they think about programs like these and what the differences are between a program like this and say the one at the U.

Alright. Now that the update on my story is over, I'll update you on what i thought of this story. Detested it thoroughly. it wasn't even that it was long because that was a given. I just thought Wallaces style of writing was hard to follow, let alone understand. The little boxes on the side threw me off because at some points they would have information explaining certain parts of the radio industry and other times it was his opinion. Sam Cook talked about when a writer uses one word the reader doesn't understand; they can usually handle it. But when you give a reader two or three more word usages they don't understand, they aren't going to stick around much longer. This is definitely how I felt while reading this. I felt like he was talking down to me, like I was beneath him.

Banana peels are air freshners

I feel like I'm being taken on a tour of KFI's broadcast studio while simultaneously being taken on a tour of the "meta-media" or "explaining industry."

KFI is just one part of the meta-media industry and John Ziegler is the star of this tour (story). Ziegler's persona and the approach he takes in his work becomes the angle of this story.

With such drive and passion demonstrated throughout the story by Ziegler, I was surprised to read on page 255 that Ziegler said, "This is a terrible business. I'd love to quit this business." This seems to make his editorial piece on what his show is about (page 216) a total mockery. The author includes a note at the bottom of the editorial that eludes to the writing as a self-mockery but I think at this point in the story I was more optimistic about what Ziegler really believes. His comments on 255 saddened me.

He really hates his job. Do a lot of talk radio people hate their jobs?

Also on 255 we read that produced Emiliano Limon (JZS) said, "There are two types of callers. You've got your hard-core talk-radio callers, who just like hearing themselves on air"..."and then there are the ones who just, for whatever reason, respond to the topic."

Isn't that an accurate description of the hosts too? That's what I gathered from this piece.

The fragmentation of news sources can be "confusing and stressful for the average citizen." Distinguishing what you want to believe from what you should believe is no doubt a difficult task. A task that we definitely don't need Ziegler's help with.


I didn't like this at all. The words were bigger and made me feel a little stupid. I also didn't like all the side notes. Some were ok, but I think he used too many of them. I want to use some for my story, but not to that amount. But it also makes me nervous that my story might get too broken up like his did. Would it be better just to have a longer story? Not sure. I felt that there was some useful information in the story but I wonder how the story would read if someone else wrote it.

Update in Story

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My research is really coming along nicely I think. I have interviewed my main guy, Dick, three times. I have met his girlfriend that lives up there with him two of the three times I was there. Everytime I go up there, he has something new to say which has been nice. I have also met with both his Son Jade and his Daughter Holly. I am still having a hard time deciding the angle of my story. Here is the breakdown of story possibilities:

1) His wife (Barb) passed away in 1992, diagnosed in 1987, from Brain Cancer. She was born and raised in Tucson Arizona where they were dumping chemicals from planes. It gave her brain cancer. There was a big lawsuit and they got a settlement for her. She passed it along to all three of her children but they didn't receive any settlement money. Their daughter Holly got it first, 12 years ago (1998). They gave her 12 months to live. Her first Tumor was in the same place that her mom's was. 8 months after she went through chemo and surgery, Dick took both his sons to a private doctor to get checked too. They found out that both boys had brain tumors as well (1999) and had to undergo surgeries right away. The youngest, Beau, passed away in August of 2009. Holly just got done with chemo on March 3rd and the tumor is still there, but has shrunk. The other son, Jade, just had his first ever seizure a few weeks ago, but the doctors can't figure out why. His tumor looks the same. Jade also has two children, his daughter Maddy (5) doesn't have the gene deficiency but his son Brady (2) does, but not tumors yet. I have met with both Holly and Jade about this, and Dick has talked about all three of his kids A LOT!! Dick wouldn't be in the story that much, but he is a really interesting guy! I want him to be.

2) Dick is from Pine City area all his life, met Barb in 1974, married her in 1976. She found out she had cancer in 1987, they had three small children. She passed away before knowing that any of her children had cancer. She passed away 8 days after her youngest sons 8th Birthday in July 1992. Dick was left with three children; Beau (8), Holly (13), and Jade (15). Dick kind of lost it and started drinking a lot and doing drugs. He always loved his children though. And then Holly found out she has cancer in 1998, his two sons a year later in 1999. It was really hard for him. He takes about what happened when they found out that Beau and Jade had it; really amazing story of crying in the kitchen. Dick says "I was dealt some bad cards." He was arrested in 2005 for drug possession and accused of dealing. The IRS took just about everything during the 15 days he was in jail. He spent another 30 days in jail and upon getting out, he sold his home in Pine City and moved up to his cabin that he had 45 minutes away. He now lives there with no running water, no indoor plumbing, and electricity from a generator. "I moved up here to get away from everything," Dick says. "I still have my kids to worry about up here but it's peaceful, less stressful and simple."

3) Dick lives in a place where there is no running water, no indoor plumbing, and electricity from a generator. His walls used to be tarps but since his girlfriend moved up there in 2007, she made him build walls. They have bears that come in at night, deer that are in their back yard, sunflower seeds and bird feeders everywhere for the birds. A huge garden where they grow musk melon, watermelon, strawberries, raspberries, carrots, potatoes, corn, etc. They eat meat that they kill; bear, deer, turkey, raccoons, rabbits, and one time a beaver (but it didn't taste good). It is hard to explain their living situation but it would be a really cool story, and just touching on his family life that was the reason why he is here.

There are quite a few different things I could do, but those are the three breakdowns. I think I am going to go with story idea #2 it kind of touches on everything and tells a story of his life. Otherwise #3 is my second bet. This guy, Dick, is a really interesting character and it will be a better story if we have him in there as much as possible with an active voice. He takes about his beliefs in death and animals which is really interesting. His wife is part Indian from Arizona and their belief is that a bird carries someone's soul after they die and how a bird flew into his wife's bedroom when he was laying with her the day she died. It stayed until she died, and then flew out the window. And when his son passed away, a huge deer appeared under his deer stand in one of their hunting cameras back up at his place and stayed there for a long time. Pretty cool stuff.

More Research: I could research the lawsuit in Tucson, Az. I could research Barb's tribe and find out more about their death beliefs. Research others who have lived in similar homes like Dick's. Research the rarity of this genetic brain cancer.

Anyone who knows any of the family would be affected. My creativity is going to be that I might use side notes to give brief little bios about his family?

My Vision

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1). Who are the people affected?
I'm affected, my readers are affected, and my sources are affected. I think looking into how what I write not only affects me but affects the people I write about is important because it will give a better understanding as to why and how the written word is so powerful.
2). How might people be affected?
People may be affected by looking at the people in my stories differently and also looking at journalists differently. To a reader who is not involved in the story it is just another story in the newspaper. But I would argue that after seeing how what I write affects my sources and myself as a writer, a reader may have a greater appreciation for journalism or at least respect the power it can have.
3). Why are you writing this?
I thought of the idea because I received an angry email from someone that I wrote about. It made me feel like crap. No one wants to get the story right more than I do, except of course, maybe the people in my story. I started to think about how important what I write is. How what I write really affects peoples lives. A small mistake to me, is a huge mistake to the source. I think it is important for me to examine the affects on myself and my sources with what I write.
4) Who are the bureaucrats?
I am still trying to figure out who else besides sources I can talk to to offer input.
5) What are your key questions?
I want to look at how what I write affects who I write about and how their reactions to what I write affects me.
6) What research is needed?
I need to gather every email I have ever exchanged with readers and sources. I also need to look back and document any mistakes I have made in pieces I have written.
7). Where can you go?
I can go to people I have written about before, other journalists for their experiences, old emails, and old stories. I have already talked to the police and to one of the kids my story was about a couple weeks ago, although he doesn't want me to use his name.
8). What am I missing?
Right now I am missing a way to show readers why they should care. I believe they should care but I am having a hard time of relating my story to non journalists.
9). How can you be creative?
I think the way I can be creative is to think of a way to incorporate my voice with the voice of others. I have never done this before so it makes me nervous.
10). My vision
My vision is a piece that looks at a different side of journalism. Something that I don't think I have looked at enough. I write stories every week. I laugh at the stupid stuff people do, write about it and print it, all usually without thinking about how it will affect the person I am writing about and the source of the information. I'm really excited to actually start writing!

10 Steps Update


I have been to the Anchor Bar a handful of times to eat, drink and observe. I have yet to conduct any interviews and am not sure if I will conduct any interviews. I think I am going to make the story about the people that frequent there: The good the bad and the ugly.

1. The people affected range from the employees - bartenders, cooks, waiters, etc to the customers - the college kids looking for a cheap burger and giant beer, the crusty regulars who sit and drink and smoke and bullshit for hours on end. There's also the yuppies from Duluth who come because they think the bar is cute and almost mock it.

2. The employees are affected because they don't really like dealing with any of the patron as far as I can discern, which is an interesting trait to have in the service industry. The customers are affected because they get to experience a typical Superior dive bar, either because they like it - old crusty folk - or because they like to mock it - college kids/yupsters.

3. This story is important because the Anchor is somewhat of an institution in the Northland and no one has really explored the wide swath of society that congregates there and how that effects the bar and its employees. Plus it's a fun place to go to, observe, and write (and hopefully read) about.

4. The bureaucrats would be the bartenders. They have the power at the bar. They control when you get your food and drinks, if you get the right food and drinks, and when you get to leave.

5. Why do people come to the Anchor Bar? Why is the food so good? Why is the drink so cheap? How did the bar evolve to where it is today?

6. I could research into the history of the bar, and how it aquired the insane knick knacks that decorate ever square inch of the bar. Also I could look into the differences between the Wisconsin and Minnesota liquor laws and how that affects the prices and crowd the Anchor draws.

7. I think the only place I need to go is the bar. I plan on my whole story taking place at the Anchor, and the bar itself is going to be the star of the show.

8. I'd like to talk to the owner/founder of the bar. Maybe get an interview with some of the crusty regulars as well as the college kids to get some of their voice into the story.

9. I might get creative with the voice or structure of the story. Maybe I'll put myself into it. Maybe I'll use an omnipresent point of view. Maybe I'll use crazy footnotes like David Foster Wallace. Maybe I'll start with the idiot college kids and the old savvy bar flies and then make the reader hate the bar flies and like the college kids by the end, ala Bill Bryson.

10. My vision is to describe the Anchor Bar from multiple different angles, interspersing with anecdotes and research on the history of the bar, to give a comprehensive (at least in my point of view) sense of what makes this northland institution tick.

Critical Thinking

I was blown away by Host. Although the extensive footnotes got cumbersome and interrupted the flow of the story at times, I thought the meat of the story was in those boxes. There was a staggering amount of critical thinking and insight contained in those boxes, and that is what really made the story for me.

Foster Wallace found a way to squeeze in all of his voice and his own insights in an incredibly creative way. I don't know how his style could be replicated, or even imitated, for I don't anyone that can think and write on that level. Really he is a writer and mind to be admired.


Going from the Val Kilmer story to the story written about John Ziegler was a difficult transition to make because I felt really distracted by all the side information the writer was giving. About half-way through the story I skipped reading the boxes and tried to only focus on the details in the story. I went back afterwards and read what was in the boxes and felt that yes, a lot of the information was important to understand the radio business but I didn't think most of it was needed to tell this story.

What I did like about this story was that I got a clearer image to how the art of radio works. The writer gives good detail about the life of a radio host and specifically the kinds of techniques used. I enjoyed reading about Ziegler talk about what it feels like for new radio hosts and how they don't realize how long ten minutes can be to talk about something. "What's amazing is that when you get new people who think that they can do a talk-radio program, you watch them for the first time. By three minutes into it, they have that look on their face like, 'Oh my god, I've got ten minutes left. What am I going to say?' And that's what happened to me a lot. So you end up talking about yourself..." I liked that the writer included these small pieces of stories because it gives an element to the character that people can relate to and that he makes mistakes in radio all the time.

NCAA Bylaw 17

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The NCAA Division II prides their student-athletes on "Life in the Balance," by juggling academics, athletics and a strong social element. Recently, Division II delegates voted in favor of Bylaw 17, which is the first step for changes in the playing and practice season in the Division II level. In January, the president's council for the NCAA Division II met to discuss Bylaw 17 and the positive and negative effects it could have on student-athletes. The Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) at UMD and SAAC groups from across the country sent student representatives and faculty to this meeting to express their concerns on this issue.
1). Who are the people affected?
Every student-athlete, coach and athletic administration in Division II. Some may ask why is this important to anyone else that isn't involved in athletics at the collegiate level. Since competition dates are being reduced, this lessens the games being watched by fans of certain sports. Also, the Bylaw caused a stir with the well-known Title IX amendment that protects students against discrimination based on sex because more women sports are being affected than men's.
2). How might people be affected?
The student-athletes and coaches will feel the biggest affects because practice times and competition dates are being reduced. The idea behind this Bylaw is that the delegates for the NCAA in Division II feel that D2 athletes are not getting life in the balance and believe student-athletes are getting an unbalance between social, academics and athletics. Coaches are also affected because they are only allowed a certain number of hours every week for practice and anything team related, which means practice times are cut-back and student-athletes are losing the chance to better prepare for competition. The athletic administration will also be affected because the NCAA believes by cutting dates and practice hours, the university and the NCAA will save money. So, my question is whether this is being done for the betterment of the students or to only save money.
3). Why are you writing this?
I am writing this because I am a student-athlete and will be affected with these changes. I pride myself on the fact that I am a D2 athlete and having the ability to have an academic and social life outside of volleyball. I wanted to write this column because I think with this issue, the student-athletes should be the one's to decide whether their lives are balanced or not.
4) Who are the bureaucrats?
Bob Nygaard- Sports Information Director at UMD, he was also the representative that spoke for UMD at the meeting of NCAA meeting for Bylaw 17 and worked alongside UMD SAAC and the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) to create an argument against the bylaw.
Karen Stromme- Assistant Athletic Director- Karen is the faculty member that represents SAAC and worked alongside SAAC leaders to communicate to the NCAA and other SAAC groups in the conference.
Bob Nielson- Athletic Director, Head Football Coach
Mike Windinger- Head Athletic Director
Chancellor Martin- she was our representative at the president's council meeting that finalized the decision. She voted against Bylaw 17.
I also want to talk to student-athletes from other universities, specifically ones who's school voted yes to the bylaw and why.
5) What are your key questions?
Most of the questions I am wondering I am stating throughout this blog, which are based on the reasons for bylaw 17.
6) What research is needed?
I definitely need to do background information on the bylaw and understand exactly the regulations and how it will affect the student-athletes. I am also researching graduation rates and the average GPAs of student-athletes in the NSIC, which includes UMD. I know right now that UMD women athletes graduate at a 100 percentile. I think this is an important aspect, since the NCAA doesn't think we are having enough time academically to excel. Another aspect of the bylaw that is being talked about for the next phase is to cancel off-season activity, which means no off-season competition or practice times with teams. They are arguing this will also give more of a balance and save money, so I want to get estimates from the teams at UMD and see how much their off-seasons actually cost.
7). Where can you go?
I am going to find most of my information from Bob and Karen because they have all the bylaw material and percentages. I also am going to be contacting other SAAC groups in our conference to get their information.
8). What am I missing?
I think I have all the elements I need to make a strong case about the bylaw, but I know I am missing the opposing views' facts, which is why I want to get information from a school that votes for the bylaw.
9). How can you be creative?
I was thinking it would be cool if I could create a chart with every school in our conference with their graduation rates and average student-athlete's GPAs compared to the rest of the student population.
10). My vision
I want this piece to be informative yet give student-athletes the chance to get their voices heard on this issue, but I don't want to make it just about the student-athletes and that's why I want to write it in my point of view to give readers a personal view on this issue and non-student-athletes background information into the world of the NCAA and what regulations athletic teams have that most people don't realize.

What I'm Thinking So Far


10 Steps to a Better Story:
1) Who are the people affected?
According to a National College Health Assessment done last year at UMD 5.6% responded that they had ADHD. However, 5.6% isn't even close to the number of people that use ADHD medicine - (nearly) every college student knows people that have a prescription or use the drug. That is to say most of UMD is affected. I am trying to be the main character in this story by attempting to get a prescription myself and possibly show what that drug is all about.
2) How are people affected or how might they be affected?
Most people don't understand that ADHD medicine is just an amphetamine. The only difference between street speed and ADHD medicine (meth, crack, etc.) is the purity of the active ingredient. Anyone that has taken Adderall knows that it is a strange drug. Also, as meth and crack are addictive, so is this drug - maybe even more so because of purity. I want people to think about how weird it is that Shire Pharmaceuticals makes so much money legally while people selling essentially the same drug on the streets are imprisoned.
3) Why are you writing this?
A lot of people, especially college-aged, can relate to this story. This story is important because it is one of the main drugs sold on campus, if not the most, which I believe because it is overprescribed. I'm not even sure if I believe ADD is a real condition; symptoms include not wanting to do schoolwork, have trouble keeping attention (daydreaming), and not liking things that require mental effort for a long period. Sounds like any kid to me.
Most don't know much about the drug other than it helps them study all night. Questions such as where it comes from, what's in it, and how it became so prevalent in campus culture need to be answered.
4) Who are the bureaucrats?
A few bureaucrats I've contacted include Sgt. Mickus of the Lake Superior Drug and Gang Task Force, Lauretta Perry from Health Services, and Dr. Laundegan from the Center for Addiction Studies. I would also like to talk to doctors, psychiatrists, and psychologists about the symptoms of ADHD. It would be interesting to get in touch with pharmaceutical companies (such as Shire Pharmaceuticals) and the FDA.
5) What are the key questions?
For the people that I've talked to with ADD prescriptions: I asked whether they actually thought they needed it or just wanted the drug, how they went about getting prescribed, how the drug affects them, etc.
For bureaucrats: The addictive nature, how prevalent they see it as, and whether they think it's a problem to prescribe kids this.
6) What research must you do?
I want to find more strangers that are diagnosed with ADD and question them about the use of their prescription. I found it interesting that the bureaucrats, such as Sgt. Mickus, don't know that so many people use/sell the drug. It's a generational gap. The real story is from the college kids - they know that it's everywhere. I need to call a few pharmacies and talk to a few doctors (probably not the one I'm trying to get prescribed by) to try to get answers about how much it is prescribed, the demographics of it, and what they think about the subject.
7) Where can you go?
Lauretta Perry recommended that I give Walgreens Pharmacy a call; she said that she has gotten good answers out of them. Of course I will need to go to hospitals and pharmacies, maybe the police department. But to get an idea what students opinions are, I think I'm going to stand by the bus station and ask about ADD medicine - it would be interesting to play "6 Degrees of Adderall", I bet anyone could find some in less than 6 people.
8) What are you missing?
I'm missing a good main character! If everything works out perfectly I might be able to take that role, but I'm not sure. I'm also not sure if I have a good central, driving thesis. I think both of these factors will develop in the next few weeks though.
9) How can you be creative?
I think that by attempting to get diagnosed with ADD I am being creative. I haven't heard of anyone else writing about that, but I know quite a few people who have. I think it would be a creative experiment to try "6 Degrees of Adderall" with a few random strangers.
10) What is your vision?
My vision for the story so far: give background information on the drug, what it is, similarities to hard drugs, and maybe some statistics. Then link into stories about college kids using it. And then hopefully end with me getting prescribed it - sending home my over prescription point that I will be laying out during the story.

What is my vision?? Good question..

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1.When I began thinking of this topic as a story idea I thought I would put myself as the people/person affected, but as I progress in my research interviewing more I realize how boring that actually would be. As of right now I've interviewed two ROTC's, Bridget Witschen and Jacob Sandkamp. Both of these interviews were mainly for my benefit, gathering details and trying to understand what ROTC is all about. I have another interview scheduled for Wednesday which I'm thinking is going to be the meat of my story and the main "who." I have acquaintances with ROTC students in four different schools across the country so depending on where this story goes I want to bring their experiences into the story as a compare/contrast aspect.

2.People are affected by this story through what our nation is currently going through with the war on terror. These ROTC students will be the next leaders of future deployments which all concerned citizens should be knowledgeable about. After reading this story I want people to understand what ROTC really is all about and that their lives are continuing to move just as fast as anyone else's. Just because they joined the military doesn't mean they don't have other hardships and I want people to understand this and feel compassion for them.

3.I'm writing this because of my personal experience with people in ROTC and how it has affected my entire life. Because my experience was so consequential I thought that there must be others out there who have had similar experiences and I want to bring their experiences to life. I want to describe to people what I had to deal with using other people's stories as a canvas.

4.My bureaucrats are the generals and recruitment officers for the ROTC. They are proving to be a hard bunch to get through to but I'm working on gaining more access to the program through them. Hopefully they'll be compliant to my requests.

5. The key questions I need to ask are; why did you sign up for ROTC, how has it affected your relationships you have, how will it affect future relationships, have you ever been influenced by ROTC to maintain/terminate a relationship with someone, and what does your future look like to you because of ROTC?

6.I need to research how many students do ROTC and other common fact checkers to insure that I can give the people accurate statistics about ROTC and the military in general.

7.I would love to follow a student through their PT and classes and am hoping the officers will allow me to do so. If not I could go to the students house after a PT or before to describe how early they actually have to wake up or what type of a time commitment ROTC really is.

8.Currently I'm missing a lot of needed interviews which are all happening in the next couple days. With this interview my story will begin to gain more shape and potentially direct me in a narrower path.

9.This is a hard question. I don't think creativity is something that can be planned in such a formal way as this outlined perspective. It needs to flow with what the story is, and once I continue my research and interviews I feel like I will have a better grasp of where the story will go and then I can concern myself with making it interesting for readers.

10.My vision is to tell the story of one ROTC student. I want to share their fears, goals and dreams. I want to explain that the military is a tough thing and the weak minded couldn't survive. I want to explain that you can easily be manipulated to do something and I want to show that life does exist outside of the military for ROTC students.

text boxes are annoying

I know we were warned about the difficulty associated with some of David Foster Wallace's writing, but I didn't think the text boxes were going to bother me as much as they did until I started reading the story. The text boxes get in the way and were extremely annoying. I felt like they broke up the reading way too much. I know the purpose of them was to enable Wallace to elaborate on important points, but it seemed like a lot of the boxes were unnecessary side notes and tangents. After reading the text boxes, I found that I would forget what was happening before I started reading the text box. Evenually, I stopped reading them becasue they were too much of a distraction for me. I would interested in knowing what other people thought about the way Wallace formatted this piece...?

Aside from the formatting that I didn't like, I liked how Wallace mentioned an experiment readers could do so they could get an idea of what talk radio is really like. He said that the readers should try sitting in a room by themselves and talk into a tape recorder about something interesting, as if they were pretending to be a talk radio host. He then says, "In order to be minimally interesting, your remarks should be intelligible and their reasoning sequential...which means that you will have to know enough about your topic to organize your statements in a coherent way...but you cannot do much of this organizing beforehand (p. 227.)" I thought about how well this process would go for me, and I think i would fail miserably and sounding even a little bit intelligible talking about the same toping for 10 minutes would be impossible for me. I'm not good at just winging things; I like to be prepared. I thought this part of Wallace's story enabled readers to put themselves in Ziegler's shoes and understand how hard it actually is to be a talk radio host.

Story idea is coming along...

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1. So far, I have two personal accounts to include in my story. I shadowed Josh, a member of the Queer and Allied Student Union (QASU) at the Spring Drag Show. I observed his transformation into a drag queen and I watched his performance. It was his first time transforming into a drag queen and I talked to him a lot about how he felt about the experience. I also spent time talking to another member of QASU named Alyssa. This was the second drag show that she has performed in.

2. I'm hoping this story affects the way society tends to judge the gay community. The atmosphere at the drag show was so much more accepting, supportive and friendly than anywhere else I have ever been. I'm hoping that by reading this story, people will be more accepting of the gay community. Based on the sources I have talked to this far, they want society to understand why people dress up in drag and put on performances. I want to tell their story so that people who are not a part of the gay community understand.

3. This story is important because it is about accepting the gay community and understanding the purpose of drag shows.

4. A bureaucrat I could interview could be the president of the QASU organization. I could also interview Angie Nichols, the faculty advisor of QASU.

5. I want to focus on why people enjoy transforming into drag performers and how it affects their self esteem. The key questions I want to address are as follows: Why do you transform into a drag queen/king? How does it make you feel? What is the process of transformation like? How do you think the atmosphere among the drag show differs from the atmosphere among people within the general society?

6. I will need to further investigate the history of drag. I would like to find when drag shows first started and where they first evolved. I will also need to research the different levels of drag performers. I think it would be interesting to find out more about the background of my sources' sexuality, but I'm afraid that might be too invasive.

7. I went to the spring drag show put on by QASU on Saturday night and I observed the performances put on by students, as well as a few professional drag queens. One of the professional drag queens that performed in the spring drag show is performing in another show soon in Duluth. I would like to go to this show in order to gather a better understanding of what it's like to be a professional drag queen. One of the members of QASU also mentioned to me that she goes to gay conventions. If possible, it would be interesting to shadow her at one of these events.

8. I wasn't able to interview audience members at the drag show, but I think it would be interesting to talk to some students about what they thought about the show. I know I want to focus on the supportive atmosphere of the drag show at some point in my story, but I think I need to do more reporting to figure out the exact angle I want to take. It's hard to tell what it is I'm missing, when I don't have a specific angle yet.

9. I think my story could be more creative if I focused more on Josh and his family. So far, I have focused on how it was his first time dressing up in drag and performing in a drag show. However, while I was reporting he mentioned that he just "came out of the closet," as he phrased it, one year ago and his family and friends were very supportive. His mom and sister came to the drag show, as well as his friends and every one of his coworkers. He had a huge fan base at the performance and it would be interesting to focus on that.

10. I think I want the story to open with a scene from the spring drag show. I want it to start by describing Josh's performance and then narrow in on his process of transforming and getting ready for the show. I also want to focus on the acceptance, or lack thereof, of the gay community. I don't know if I want to have separate chapters of my story where one section would be solely about Josh's experiences and then have a separate section about the gay community in general, or if I want to intertwine it all together.

1) I am the main attraction in this story. I've never, ever been in one of my stories so this is very different for me!
2) The story is about me. I had a nontraditional study abroad experience. It seems that everyone who goes abroad "just does it." They go, they study, they come back when they're supposed to. I didn't. I came back early. Everyone (including myself) thinks that's pretty weird. Why'd I do it? I don't really know. There's no answer. But I'm going to do my best to tell you (my readers and myself) everything I do know.
3) This story is so, so important to me. This experience is on my mind EVERYDAY. Many people are surprised when I tell them that. I know I won't think about it everyday for the rest of my life but for now, I am still picking up the pieces. I am still trying to answer unanswerable questions. I feel like if I can compile all my feelings into one narrative piece I can really feel like I've said what I need to say. I don't expect that the piece I write will serve as a reference for other people who are in a similar situation. I am looking at this piece in a more selfish manner. I just need to say it for me. The nice part about it is that tt's an interesting and nontraditional enough that other people seem very intrigued about reading it. I don't have to feel embarrassed by this experience and when I do, I'll look at the beautiful piece of writing that came out of it.
4) I my bureaucrat in this story is the full-time professional at the International Study Abroad Office at UMD. See below for more details on this!! I will defeinitely be incorporating her perspective in this piece. I have very hard feelings toward this professional. It's essential that I include her viewpoint in my story because I feel like talking to her will help me to figure out if my hard feelings toward her are warranted or not. (again, see below)
5) Because I am so much more involved in this story than I have been in any of my other stories, I know that each of the interview I conduct is going to be so different than what I've done in the past. I think when I interview Min Young (my former flatmate in England) I'm going to start by asking her to tell me the story of my study abroad experience. I won't tell her that she's right or wrong, I just want to hear her observations of my time there. I also want to ask her what specifically she remembers about my stay, what was different when I left, how was her experience studying abroad, and did my decision to leave have an impact on her experience. When I interview the full-time professional from UMD I'm going to make the conversation very, very casual. She is the source that I really feel like I need to "face." She is one of the people who I guess you could say I have resentment toward because of my nontraditional experience. To say the least, I feel like she could have and should have played a bigger role in my experience. I met with her several times before I left to address some of my concerns and some technicalities regarding studying abroad. Each time I left her office I felt worse than when I walked in. I felt and still feel very, very misguided by her. I think I'm just going to sit down and say do you know who I am? Do you remember me? I just want to talk to you about my experience (keep in mind we've had NO contact since I left) I'd like to try to see if I can make some observations about how she responds to me being in her office just to talk about this, just to get my feelings out. Maybe it's not her job to give a shit. But I think it is.
6) I've conducted little research regarding the number of students who study abroad annually. I want to find some numbers more specific to UMD. This information will be nice to have when I'm putting together my final product but I don't imagine it will play a vital role. I also am conducting some financial research about how much it costs to study abroad and how much it "cost" me (financially and emotionally).
7) I am conducting one interview via Skype tomorrow morning. It's been a bit of a challenge to coordinate this interview because there is a 14 hour time difference between my source and I! I also intend to conduct an interview in the study abroad office with a full-time professional who I worked with during my study abroad experience.
8) What am I missing? I should have kept better documentation of how I felt at the time. I wish I would have written more in my journal. I do have a fair amount. But I think the most important stuff would have been written down once I returned home. I think it will be ok because with an event as significant as this I know that if I give myself sufficient time I will be able to sit, recall, and write about my memories.
9) I'm going to write from a first person perspective. This will be my account of what happened. It won't be informative, fluffy, number-laden, or a small part of a big puzzle. This is my story and my story only.
10) There are so many possibilities for my opening. I really haven't narrowed it down enough quite yet. I'm considering setting up two scenes. I'd like to explain the scene when I first arrived in Brighton and then I'd like to set up the scene when I was leaving Brighton. In between the two (or after) I'd like to say something to the effect of, "I've only been here six weeks. What happened to three months? What am I doing?"

Mr. Ziegler's profits

At first, reading about Mr. John Ziegler made me wonder if you have to be nuts to be a talk radio host? Then, I thought that this article is about "Mr. Ziegler's on air attitude, edginess, and passion." But, after carefully reading Wallace's article, a better title is "Mr. Ziegler's profits." That is why Mr. Ziegler and his radio station use everything that they can as an entertainment product with a conservative spin to draw in conservative listeners as on air entertainment.

I found that it was hard to read a text box within a text box, such as the one on page 212. In fact, I counted eighteen times when Wallace used a text box within a text box, making it much harder to read and to keep track of what I had read and what I have yet to read. In other words, Mr. Wallace's writing style greatly annoyed me. Did it annoy you?

I'm wondering what impression David Wallace wanted to create about Mr. John Ziegler by telling his readers that Mr. Ziegler moved to L.A. alone, pulling his U-Haul trailer, and moved into the old Korean district?

Similar to Chuck Klosterman's article on Val Kilmer, David Wallace wrote many words describing weird things Mr. Z does, such as how Mr. Z rises and lowers his arms, fidgets, bobs, and weaves. Should the reader interpret that Mr. Z is attempting to build up emotional energy, drain off emotional energy, or is he just weird like Val Kilmer?

Mr. Wallace tends to fill up pages with his own opinions, such as the one on page 213. "By the standards of the U.S. radio industry this makes him almost movie star gorgeous." Is this Mr. Wallace's own opinion or that of people in the industry? Wallace wrote such a big article and the details are so small that I find it hard to find a specific comment that I had read a few pages back and decide to write it up.

Wallace goes into detail on the clothing worn by Mr. Ziegler, the expression in his eyes, or how he deals with stress. Wallace describes the eyes of Mr. Hernandez as ". . . placid, grand- motherly eyes common to giant mammals everywhere" and adds Star Trek references such as "prime directives." I wonder if this was intended to give his readers an alternative way to see John Ziegler, display Wallace's knowledge of popular culture, or just make money by using a long-winded way to describe details that he saw that another writer could have described using far fewer words?

How do you determine what is real information from ideological spin? Wallace does not appear to have put much thought into answering that question as he does describing small details such as the source of the banana odor in Mr. Z's studio.

Wallace sometimes refers to Mr. Ziegler as Mr. Z. I'm not sure why Wallace sometimes wrote Mr. Ziegler in some places and Mr. Z in others at random, as this shorter name hardly makes Wallace's article any shorter to read. When Wallace alludes to Mr. Ziegler as Mr. Z, I think of some cartoon character villain instead of a flesh and blood, human being.

For myself, page 224 had the most eye-opening section when Wallace describes talk radio as a business, motivated by revenue. After Hillary Rodham Clinton coined the term, "Vast right-wing conspiracy," I keep thinking about conservative talk radio being part of some conservative organized network. I then remembered that sellers make what people are willing to buy, and in this case the product being made and sold is conservative talk radio.

I never knew just how hard it was to be a talk radio host and compose an emotionally moving speech on the fly, with little time to draft a script or to research a topic. And, I love the comment on page 230 about "You're not really acting on the radio. It's you."

On page 239, I wonder how Wallace knows that Mr. Z is putting on an act to appear "exaggeratedly relaxed" or is he in fact emotionally relaxed during his Wednesday afternoon meetings with program director Robin Bertolucci? On page 263, Wallace wrote an eleven-line sentence, the one that starts off with, "At the other." I had to reread that monster sentence at least three times before I got what Wallace had written. On page 270, Wallace asks his readers what part of our minds is being stimulated by talk radio? Is talk radio stimulating our reptilian part of our brains or the frontal lobes of our brains?



1) I have two main characters right now, Dave and Mike, from among the guys, and looking at focusing in on one or two more guys. Nona, the choir director, is also going to be a major character. I want the story to focus around a few people and their different journeys in the world of recovery, using the choir as a kind of focal point.

2) I guess the effect of the choir is really what the story is about. The guys in the choir are getting their lives restored. The choir director is finding fulfillment in giving of her time and energy. Their families are just grateful to have them back among the living.

3) This story is important because it paints a picture of hope and restored lives.

4) I guess one bureaucrat could be the director of Teen Challenge, Paul Harkness. He's very involved in the guys' lives, though, so if I want a really bureaucratic viewpoint I guess I could talk to a judge or something, someone that sends people to Teen Challenge.

5) I've been asking people basic questions about their background, their story, how they got to TC. Then if it's someone who works there I ask things like "How does it feet to see someone get their life back together," "How does it feel to see someone quit the program and go back to the streets," "How have you seen music work in the recovery process?" And then if I'm interviewing one of the guys, I ask things like "What has singing in the choir been like for you," "How has it helped in the recovery process," and "Can you describe what it feels like to have a second chance?"

6) I've done some research on TC, but there are many of them all over the country and I could definitely do a couple phone interviews with different ones. I've thought about it before but didn't know if it would really contribute to my story.

7) Most of my interviews have been at the TC center. I did one at Caribou last week too, but it's where the guy hangs out a few days a week so it seemed appropriate. I think the TC center is the best for most of it, though, because that's where most of these people live, and I think it captures the feel of the story. I also went to a car show that they sung at last night. Next weekend I'm going to a church play that one of the guys is acting in.

8) This one is tough. What am I missing? I guess, like I said, I could talk to some people at other TC centers in the state/country. I'd also like to talk to a judge. This is a question I'll have to think more about, though. Who else can I talk to that will shed a new light or perspective on this story, or reveal a different side of its 'soul'?

9) I think just the fact that I'm zeroing in on a couple different guys will be a good angle. One of them graduated last week, so that's a good natural climax, and then one of them has this play coming up, which is kind of fun. Also, I have a lot of fun dialogue and I want to use some of the song lyrics from the choir to give the story a rhythmic feel. I hope more creative ideas will come as I start writing the real thing.

10) I see the story opening with a scene from choir practice, showing the chaos, the humor, the personality of this group of guys. Then I can go to some quotes about the choir from a couple of people that work at TC. Then I would go to the stories of the two, three, four, however many guys I decide to zero in on. I have a great scene from Dave's graduation that I could wrap the story up with, or maybe the way he looked when he talked about his dad. That was a great moment.

You got my attention

I know we don't like to focus on whether or not we like something, but this was by far my favorite piece yet; and I think this guy is the most talented writer.
You get the same sense of Kilmer's quirkiness that you get from watching his movies. He is a weird guy. This story helped me notice one element of writing that has been on the tip of my tongue for a while: a writer could be the biggest douchebag on the planet and still manage to make himself seem down to earth and cool through the use of his writing.
This story is also a good example of a writer and a source that will probably never speak again, and it serves as a reason never to talk to reporters.

Story is as weird as Val

I'm not really sure about this story. I loved reading it, and I couldn't put it down, but does that make it a good story? What about plot, focus, newsworthiness, legs, etc? This really doesn't have much of any of those, but it has some intangible degree of human interest.

This is more than "this guy is really weird." If it had been, I would have dropped it halfway through completely content to just take the author's word for it and not read the rest. Maybe it is the emphasis on dialogue, and on showing rather than telling. My story doesn't have to be this odd, but I can take away some lessons about details and dialogue.

If this story, with its lack of focus and newsworthiness can hold my interest, how much more could a well-written story with load of newsworthiness?

Val Kilmer...

I don't really know for sure how I feel about Chuch Klosterman's story on Val Kilmer. I thought it was really easy to read and he used good descriptions, but I am not really sure what the whole point was. I thought he was going to be talking more about the poem that Kilmer gave him and talk about if it was particularly telling him something, but I must have missed that...I thought in a way the way he set up the story made complete sense, because the guy that it is about it crazy and weird and if he would have done everything normal and told normal typical stories it wouldn't be a story on Kilmer. I feel like I want to read it again to try and see if I can find the actual point of it.

I was reading some of the other posts and I agree with what someone said about whether or not he used a tape recorder, because I agree I feel like some of the stuff would have been extremely hard to write down without having it recorded.

Overall the story made me want to keep reading, because I wanted to figure this Kilmer character out.

Val Kilmer=Batman...forever

Val Kilmer was my hero, and my hero for one reason: he was Batman. He was only the infamous Batman for one movie, but I always thought of him as THE Batman. I know this has no barring on the article itself but I was excited to hear about my hero's actual life.

Reading this article with Sam Cook's lessons in mind made me ponder a few things: Did Klosterman use a tape recorder or notebook, or both. I also wondered why he went after this, besides the fact the Val Kilmer is a big time actor and liked Mr. Klosterman, and I think it was because He admired Kilmer. The article itself had a great flow to it, it felt very natural and relaxed and did not seem to through pretentious facts down your throat. I loved how Mr. Klosterman did not seem to hold back on his view of Kilmer. I also liked how he used Oliver Stone to help illuminate Kilmer's attitude. Overall, I had a great time reading this article.


Well I am up in the air about Klosterman's story about the famous actor. On one hand, I was surprisingly happy to see how short it was. However, at the end of reading it I felt let down, where was the juicy material? Where are the questions outside the box made to make the actor answer outside the box? There were certainly inferences of how Kilmer is not your average Joe, but most actors and actresses are not, so what's the real dirt? That he fells like moses because he played him in a movie? I would feel like Moses too if i lived on a multi-million dollar ranch with Buffalo that I would be so tempted to eat. I do however, really like both Kilmer's and the authors voice in the story, the conversation tone is relaxed and the story reads well becuase of it. This story comes at a appropiate time after Sam Cook talked to us on Tuesday about interviewing and how you must soak in everything your subject is saying, This is what Klosterman does acceptionally well. The story does not focus on some of the things you would initially figure. There are segments about his family and past, but not enough to really distinguish Val Kilmer from a normal man his age. Knowing he is famous, what do I want to know about him that I already dont, that he is weird? I believe with great risk if Klosterman were to take a different angle to this story and write it again, it could be a little more successful. I do not want to criticize the writer for anything but does anyone else feel like he maybe could have done more to make the story better? It has that cutesy ending that many of the stories we have read have, but I felt a little unfinished at the end, like what happens next or did maybe he leave some things out that would have been crucial for the reader to know?

I'm still laughing

I've waited until the last moment to write this blog entry because I feel....baffled. I wanted to read everyone else's entry before I wrote my own. Everything about this article was hilarious. I can't get over the nonchalance in Klosterman's voice in what he writes about Val Kilmer; so much in fact, I really didn't understand it at first. I didn't know why the piece was titled "Crazy Things Seem Normal, Normal Things Seem Crazy," until I put down the book, chuckled, and shrugged my shoulders. Val Kilmer is a wierdo! At least he was in this reading. I think Klosterman developed some type of repertoire (is that the right word for trust?) that allowed him to write SO truthfully. The truthfulness almost seemed mocking but I don't think it was. I think this trust came from what Klosterman had published previously about Val Kilmer. It was clear Val liked what he'd written and maybe he thought that Klosterman would write something "for him" again. But Klosterman is definitely not writing for his source in this piece; he's writing for his readers, no doubt.

The way he had him out to his ranch seemed like a offer he would only extend to a friend. The two men spending time together at the ranch is one of the comical parts that continues to stick out in my head. One criticism that I do have of Klosterman is that I think he could have done a better job showing time pass in this article. We know he spent a lot of time there and there are definitely different scenes but we definitely could have read more about what occurred there. Maybe Klosterman didn't show more time passing because he picked out the best parts and thats what we're reading. Yeah, that's probably what he did.

I'm your Huckleberry...

Going into this article I thought of Val Kilmer as a sick actor. I was never a fan of Batman: Forever and can't name many of his other movies, but his performance in Tombstone was riveting in my opinion. I always wondered how he could portray Doc Holliday so realistically -- or what one would think is realistic. Once Klosterman relays Val's opinion on the toll acting takes on somebody, the question I began asking 10 years ago was answered. It's pretty clear that he delves into character deeper than most anyone thinks is humanly possible. The conversation between the two increased my respect for Kilmer's career exponentially. The back-and-forth dialogue Klosterman puts in play between himself and Kilmer carries the story and really drives home Klosterman's point about how strange a person Kilmer is. I also loved how he tied the story back to the signs that warned 'gusty winds may exist.' As far as questions for class go: I noticed Klosterman chose to drop (at least) two F-bombs in the piece. Outside of a direct quotation -- like the F-bomb laden quote Michael Lewis utilized in his piece on the teenage stock market wizard kid - when is it acceptable to drop language like that? Also, was Klosterman fair to Kilmer? Though he makes it clear that he respects his work, it seems like he is slamming the man at times -- like when he says the huge teeth began talking to him when they first met.

Normal Things Seem Crazy

I can't decide how I feel about Chuck Klosterman's profile of Val Kilmer. I thought it was well written and easy to read and follow along with, but I finished it thinking, "so what?" This is probably because I don't have much background on Kilmer or know anything about what he is like as a person. I think that may have helped somewhat.

Also, I was a little confused because in the reading from Tuesday's class from Telling True Stories, I was under the impression that an entire character can't be summed up in one article; that there needs to be one specific detail that is focused on. I didn't really get that from Klosterman's article. Unless I'm reading too far into it and the one main focus was Kilmer on his ranch...

One thing I found myself wondering, especially after Sam Cook's talk on Tuesday, is if Klosterman used a tape recorder or a notebook. He uses so many intricate details, especially when retelling direct conversations he had with Kilmer, I feel like there's no way to get such specific notes without a tape recorder.

Val Kilmer is f**king crazy!

This is the best article we've read. This may be the coolest piece I've read in a reallllly long time. Val Kilmer is insane! I always knew it, I just didn't have proof--until now. I should have known after watching "The Doors." The guy owns and is, apparently, connected to buffaloes because he's part Cherokee. Hmm.. He's friends with Nelson Mandela AND Steve-O..What!? He "understands the feeling of being crucified" because he played Moses..WHAT!?!
I loved how Klosterman wrote this article. He tells us that Kilmer views him as a pal but I never got the idea that he wrote more favorably because Kilmer felt that way. Klosterman even discloses that he thinks Kilmer is weird--perhaps my favorite example of a writer inserting voice into a story of the semester. I do wonder if this is a case of contaminated access, however. Kilmer only granted the interview request because he was fond of Klosterman's past words. This didn't affect my enjoyment of the article, but I could see it being an issue for others.
I don't know what greater meaning or lesson could be plucked from reading this story, but I do know that my next viewing of "Top Gun" will be my favorite yet (and I've watched it a time or five).

Gusty Winds May Exist

I really liked this take on a profile. I liked that it focused on an inside look at who Val is and who Val wants us to think he is. I liked how the whole profile shared bits of pieces about Val that would lead us to make our own decisions about him. Although the author thought Val to be weird, I found him to be more normal than I would assume a celebrity to be. The profile showed that he has insecurity and he does care what people think and read about him. Maybe that's why he usually doesn't do interviews and only agreed to this one after knowing he was thought of as "advanced". I liked how the story started with end. With him leaving the ranch. The story moved along well and read very easily.

Batman Forever

Judge me if you like: when I was little I had a crush on Val Kilmer, mainly cause he was the hunk in the movie Willow and was...duh...Batman. That being said, and also the fact I haven't really seen any other movies of him, the character of Kilmer that was captured in this story seemed to be dead on. I think also that Klosterman drove home the point that you must be a sponge while interviewing. There are so many little details he used that as I was reading I was like "why would you put that in there? Like sweet detail but why?" but all the details seemed to tie together to make Kilmer the multi dimensional character he is presented as in this story. The story itself I found was an enjoyable read; at no point was I going back asking myself "alright now how does this fit into the story?" like I have in some of the past readings. i think this shows Klosterman using a technique similar to Sam Cook's in deciding what goes into a story and what doesn't. I am sure there were many other details and moments that Klosterman thought were interesting, however there just wasn't room for everything.

Kilmer was captured

I can't help but think that if someone hadn't seen his movies this would not be an effective piece. It relied a lot on the reader knowing who he is. On the other hand, I though Klosterman's detail and style set vivid scenes for me as a reader. I thought Klosterman did a great job capturing Kilmer's character in the piece, but I think it's because I was familiar with him before the article. I am wondering if the rest of the class agrees that prior knowledge of Kilmer is a necessity for this article to be effective for the reader.

Blog due 3/25

This was an interesting story but at the end I asked myself, what was the point of this story? i don't understand the impact/so what factor in this story. I feel that Chuck never really got to know Kilmer as much as he should have. Kilmer is a very complex and weird guy. So he should really have hung out on that ranch for at least a week. It seemed to me that Chuck only got to the service of who this guy is. I didn't like how he put an exact dialogue section in there, I feel he could have talked about their conversation a little more conversationaly (if that makes sense) I just feel that by writing straight text of a conversation, it is the writer being lazy. Anyone else feel that way?

Details Details

Chuck Klosterman's story exemplified what Sam Cook said on Tuesday about having to write down every single detail of a situation when you are in the moment. He never would have remembered the time, date and where everyone was going to go if he hadn't written it down at some time. I enjoyed the details Klosterman included in the piece and I think that it gave the story more interest. I found the long dialogue he included to personify this as well.

One question I have is what is the point of this story? Klosterman included all these details and little facts and stories about Kilmer but I couldn't find a real point to the story besides telling these things.

Gusty winds do exist.

I've seen three Val Kilmer movies in my lifetime, The Doors, Wonderland, and one that I can't remember the title of where he is a Confidential Informant and is fed cow brains by some crazy drug lord who wears nothing but stained tank tops and has a fake nose. Needless to say, I don't think Val has had too big of an impression on me as an actor. He portrayed a sad excuse of Jim Morrison and seemed like a total lunatic in The Doors (which I turned off after 30 minutes), which made me go into the nameless movie with a terrible impression of him and come out thinking the same thing as before. I really enjoyed Wonderland, which I saw before the other two, but until reading this I don't think I realized he was even in it (which now is making me wonder what about that movie I liked...).
When Kilmer says that he is able to absolutely identify with someone who's in prison for murder, or understands what it's like to be a fighter pilot more than an actual fighter pilot, OR when he would understand the feeling of being crucified if he were cast in The Passion of the Christ, that's when my suspicions of him being a complete dumbass became solidified. Maybe "dumbass" isn't the right word, but Klosterman is very correct when he says Kilmer is weird.
I really like Chuck Klosterman as an author, the way he goes so into detail about things is great. With a story like this, obviously you're going to need a lot of detail as the reader, especially if you don't know anything about Val Kilmer. I guess the question I have is, because Klosterman really likes Kilmer as an actor, did he portray him in a certain way?

Kilmer- a complex character

Sad to say... I had to google Val Kilmer because I couldn't remember who he was... and realized he plays in one of my all time favorite movies; Top Gun.

Anyways, I really enjoyed this profile of him. I think it gave another angle to a story about a celebrity. The only stories I ever really read about celebrities are in magazines and newspapers, so it was refreshing that this was a narrative describing a life of Kilmer. He would definitely be categorized as a complex character with many layers. This is the kind of story that I feel would be difficult to write just because there Kilmer is an in-depth individual. His personality and the way he acts is unique. His religion is interesting. His family life and how he lives on a huge ranch is interesting. I think Klosterman did a good job at breaking down certain elements because like it says in Telling True Stories... you can't explain an entire life of a character. I also liked how Klosterman put himself into the story. I was able to get his reactions and thoughts about Kilmer that I was able to relate to. There are certain things about Kilmer that are unusual and I think it helped to understand them when Klosterman gives his thoughts and opinions about him.

writing for the reader

I thought Klosterman did a good job writing for the readers. He expressed what he really thought about Kilmer and he didn't write his story solely to impress Kilmer. Throughout his story, Klosterman cites examples that relate to why he thinks Kilmer is weird. It was an interesting story, and it was written very objectively. I liked the dialgoue Klosterman included when he was describing how Kilmer relates to the character roles he takes on in the movies. He gave readers a good idea of exactly what Kilmer was thinking. Readers are then better able to understand Kilmer's voice and seriousness. Overall, I liked the voice that Klosterman used throughout his story. I would be interested in knowing what other people think about how Klosterman used his voice in this story.

Klosterman tells it like it is

The voice in this story was attention grabbing. Klosterman didn't sugarcoat his story; he explained his time with Kilmer exactly as he experienced it. Even though he was one of his favorite actors, Klosterman wasn't afraid to call Kilmer a weirdo. The details he added throughout the story made it seem as if the reader were actually sitting there at Kilmer's home watching the interview.

I like the description, "The worst thing I could say about him is that he's kind of a name-dropper;beyond that, he seems like an affable fellow with a good sense of humor, and he is totally not f-ed up. But he is weird." Klosterman never actually insults the actor, but he did break down the quirks of his personality which I liked.

I wonder if Kilmer read this article. I also wonder if he took offense to Klosterman's frank descriptions, or if Kilmer could actually appreciate the story for what it was. This made me wonder if it's good or bad to insert so much opinion in a personal piece about someone else?

Klosterman on Kilmer

I thought Klosterman did a phenomenal job profiling a difficult subject. The way he used small details to convey big ideas, like when Kilmer used a magnifying class with a buffalo horn handle, was powerful.

I also thought that Klosterman did a great job of using his voice. Instead of coming off as arrogant like Micheal Lewis, or to a lesser extent, Jack Hitt, Klosterman's voice is more self-aware and curious. He was almost as much a part of the story as Kilmer was, but his internal dialogue felt like my own internal dialogue. I understood what Klosterman was talking about when he digressed, his digressions made me feel like I was there at the ranch.

Details you'll need for final project

Writing project
Specialized Reporting
Students will create a magazine-length piece of narrative non-fiction using a sub-genre of their choosing on a topic of their choosing. In general, these projects will encourage writers to step out of their comfort zones and pursue a piece of reporting that allows them to use narrative and detail to tell a story. These projects will also demonstrate strong effort in reporting, though the type of reporting will vary from project to project.
Minimum requirements:
- Length: 1,500 words or more
- Sources: Roughly 10 sources. A source is something or someone that appears in the article - to which information is attributed.
- All deadlines for this project are firm. No late work is accepted. See class schedule for details.
- These works will be published either on Lakevoicenews or another publication. This must be made clear to sources - this is not simply a class project. This is public writing.
- Any issues involving sources that may suggest "contaminated access" must be discussed with me before pursuing. See "other ground rules" on class syllabus for details to be wary of.
- All projects must include a source list with contact information for all sources.

Tentative rubric for final writing project
Sources/Reporting (40 points)
The article draws on details from documents, observation and interviews with people who are multidimensional characters to tell a story that is rich in detail and shows considerable reporting and research effort by the writer.

Focus/tension/complication (20 points)
The story is driven by a keenly focused hook that draws the reader into the story. This is done using techniques such as story tension and story complication that help the reader and the writer understand how all elements of the story fit together and why all elements in the story connect to one another.

Voice/Style/Structure (10 points)
The story unfolds in a logical and graceful way, anticipating the readers' questions and presenting information in a way that reflects the appropriate voice for the topic and the story.

Quality/craft/accuracy (20 points)
The story adheres to all the basic tenants of good journalism. It is free of grammatical errors. All information has been verified and is accurate.

Ethics/attribution (10 points)
All information is sourced in a way that is transparent to the reader. All aspects contaminated access are made apparent to the reader so they can judge whether these relationships affect the way the story is told.

Total points: 100


After reading several entries talking about characters and character development I began to think about my current story and how I could construct it. So far, I have used a few of the techniques discussed in the readings. One significant one being the idea of telling a story about the character through an object. I feel like it is the most interesting way to expand on a character, assuming the subject matter, itself, is interesting.

Helpful tips...

I found this reading about building quality into the work to be very interesting. I really liked the article Setting the Scene, by Mark Kramer and the artcile How I Get to the Point, by Walt Harrington. In Setting the Scene they talk about you should set scenes in narrative writing. I am trying to learn how to do that more with the story that I am doing. In the article it says that, "you write: 'She had a mishap', and readers feel nothing. But if you write, 'She stepped out into nothing and pitched downstairs,' readers feel it in their stomachs. I need to remember to do this in my story, because I will be comparing the two trips that I took so it will be important for me to describe my feelings and the scene to make the readers understand and feel like they were there and were a part of it. I found it interesting how Harrington discussed process in his article. I am going to try to stick to the process and hopefully come up with a story and be okay with following something in a different direction.

This reading was interesting and I will probably find myself looking back on it when I am writing my drafts.

Going character hunting

I was impressed with how these writers portray journalism as being both so complex and so simple. It is complex in that there are a myriad of ways to entice an audience, and a myriad of ways to inadvertently lose an audience's interest. It is simple in that a journalist is simply a translator. A lens that decodes the complicated real world for the reader who knows nothing about the story being told.

If I stick with my current plan, the Stranded Car Stunt, I will have no trouble describing the scene. If no one stops to help, it may be all I get to talk about.

The trick is going to be finding a character(s). Talking to a couple random Good Samaritans for a couple minutes each is not going to cut it. I need to somehow get in the head and soul of a Good Samaritan. I don't want my story to be just a snapshot of a lonely highway. I want it to be a movie with characters and a plot and an ending and stuff. For that, I need characters. "Readers enter most stories through the main character." I need to git me one o them. It needs to be my focus while out in the field - to keep my antenna tuned for the appearance of a possible main character.

Less is More

The section about character development really stuck with me after reading this section. Franklin said it nicely when he talked about that while a writer must draw a true portrait of a character, however it will not be a complete picture. I feel this part of writing is where I truly need to refine my skills. Too many times in my writing I try and dig into every little last part of a character and what has to do with them. I need to learn that this is impossible for most every writer to bring into the story every aspect of every character; it would make for a very boring story.

I am looking into a story which would require an indepth look into one aspect of a persons life and what is going on and how they will cope with all the changes in one part of their life. I think remembering that not every single aspect of this person's life doesn't need to be involved with the story in order to get a point across to the reader. Discovery for the reader is what keeps someone reading a story intrigued and takes them away so they don't realized their reading something.

Sequence is key

I found Tom French's advice particularly interesting in this section of reading. He preached the importance of finding the proper sequence for a story, or it may sound discombobulated. I plan to write a history piece, and this French's advice seems sound. He says that it's natural to WANT to skip around from scene to scene, but it's not usually BEST. In his section "report and write along a clear, simple line" on page 141, he provides an excerpt that is 90% chronological, yet perfectly funnels the reader toward one word or idea that matters: Mud. I've been wondering how I would do that myself. Of course, I don't know what my one cogent point will be yet, but I have wondered how to maintain an effective structure. Dealing with up to 40 years of softball history seems daunting, but perhaps maintaining a mostly chronological structure will simplify the process while still providing an ease of reading for anyone trying to read the story.

Do not add. Do not deceive.

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The key idea in this chapter appears on page 163, "At each of these stages the narrative writer must make choices that affect the trustworthiness of the text and, therefore, the genre." What is the best way to tell your readers what are your personal opinions, and what are your tangible facts?

What happens when you, playing the role of reporter, make an honest mistake? For example, I once read in a newspaper an article about a railroad fan trip sponsored by the Depot's train museum. I saw a picture of this train was a mixture of cars built in the 1920's to the 1960's. So, all of the cars seemed to have been painted in a different pattern even if they were from the same company.

The reporter observed that it was nice that the Great Northern Railroad had offered the use of their locomotives to pull the train that day. But, twenty years ago before that day, the Great Northern had merged with other regional railroads to form Burlington Northern. Thus, the Great Northern had not been a company for about twenty years. In fact, the train museum's locomotives had pulled the train. I suppose that means to create accurate journalism that we should always ask questions, even if they may sound silly. You will never know who may know some important fact that will save your story from an embarrassing mistake.

By the way, how do you define just what is the public interest? What should the public know and what should remain private matters?

On page 173, Isabel Wilkerson described how she got to know her source family by helping them fold their socks at a Laundromat. I never saw on any television drama where the script had their actors playing the roles of reporters fold a family's socks with their subjects at a Laundromat.

Also on page 173, Isabel Wilkerson wrote, "Journalists use food to buy time with sources constantly; these boys deserved no less." Using food as a method of obtaining information appears to be an ethical way to obtain interviews.

While on page 180, my eyes were opened to realize that Sonia Nazario chose to ride on top of railroad freight cars to get to know how it felt like to ride these. Are these common assignments for journalists or are these just the highlights of their careers as journalists?

I believe that if you write your articles without passion, your readers will read your articles without interest. But, as a narrative journalist how do you create passion in your writing while keeping your writing style nonfiction at the same time? The funny thing is that I had written that first line before I had starting reading this chapter. I wrote it before I had read Sonia Nazario statement on page 182, "As narrative reporters we must aspire to write the most moving stories we can."

Do reporters who write about events that they themselves didn't witness firsthand need to point that out in an explanatory box? Do reporters need meta-narratives in their writing that tells their readers what the reporters saw with their own eyes and what they reconstructed from the memories of others?

Main Character

Franklin's section on character stuck out to me, especially the quote: "Character-centered stories often start most effectively when the character is close to a decisive action; then they move back in time to explain how the person came to that point." (p. 128)

I was thinking for my story I would use this technique. I would be describing the doctor's office, what I was doing there, etc. Or I could be filling my prescription for the first time and describing the atmosphere, and then I could flash back to why I decided to do the story and give some background information on the drug. In this way of telling the story I would be the main character.

Tension is key

I liked section 5 of Telling True Stories. One piece I found interesting was that good clean sentences are fundamental to the voice of the writing. Once a reader can "trust" the author and a strong voice is established, the writer can then add colorful transitions or bounce back from one point in time to another.

Also, it mentioned that the best stories have rising action, and don't give away the most exciting material in the beginning. Tension is created by building towards some central act within the story. It was explained that a story must start out good but progressively get better. I have not begun actually constructing my story yet, but I will take these points and try to find the tension within my topic.

Blog Due 3/23

This was a helpful section in the book. I really liked what Mark Kramer had to say about setting the scene. I am starting to write my first draft and the part where he talks about Austere Timing is going to be helpful when I start editing. It talks about how setting the scene shouldnt be too long and end the scene soon after the action has happened. If I explain what happens well enough, I shouldn't need to set the scene or end the scene too much, it should be self explanatory. In my story, the main character has been giving me all sorts of stories of his drug addiction that I was not there to witness. It was interesting how he said that you should coach the person to get really descriptive. I feel in some of his stories, there isn't enough description for the reader to get a full sense of his life. When I go see him again this weekend, I am going to try this technique. I thought it was interesting how he read the story back to the farmers to add to his story. This was a really risky thing to do because the farmers may have not liked the light they put him under and that would have been really bad. What is the right or wrong way to check facts? is reading sections of the story ok to do? how do you handle the situation if they want you to not put it in at all?

New Tools

I found section V very helpful. I particularly liked Jon Franklin's section on character. I found it comforting when he said that " writer can capture a whole person" (127). I had been a little worried about what to do with seemingly irrelevant details of people and after reading this, now I know: throw 'em out. This is another of the many aspects of creative nonfiction I have found really different than traditional journalism; rather than including every detail, to hone in on just a couple, sometimes just one part of someone, and write the story from there.

Powerful literature moves people to suspend disbelief

This chapter began with an explanation of how the character has changed from morality to eugenic, and now to the way tthe character's inner world stacks up against the outside reality they face. Pulling the reader inside the character's mind. This is essentially what I want to do with my reporting. I want (first myself and then) my readers to understand what went through my mind during one of the lowest points in my life. Franklin tells me that this take "rigorous reporting." He argues that no writer can capture a whole person. I argue that if you're going to attempt to, you might as well try to capture yourself. At the surface it seems most logical that you know your self more than you could ever know anyone least that what we all hope I think. I do realize, however, that there are many details about myself, as whole, that won't be pertinent to my subject.

I think I was planning to do a "psychological interview" the entire time I've been brainstorming about this piece of writing, although I never gave it that name. I'll have to look at myself as a patient while I do my reporting. In many ways, I felt like a patient during this time in my life. I kept thinking that there must be an answer to what was happening...that someone someday would tell me what happened. I was in a state of disbelief. Every morning I woke up in my bed at my parents house instead of in England, or in Duluth, or wherever I was supposed to be, I wondered why I was here instead of there. I was in a state of disbelief. After reading this story I want to suspend that disbelief, overcome it. This is my chance to tell myself and to tell others my story.

Deepening Scenes

This is probably the most helpful section of Telling True Stories that I've read. It had so many good tips that I will actually use in my story. I liked Kramer's idea of talking to the people in a scene, even when you were there, so they can help you tell it (p138). They might have noticed details you didn't, or like in Kramer's example, known crucial things about the scene that should be in the description. I feel like I already used this to some extent, albeit unwittingly, in my story. I went to a choir practice and afterwards I ended up sitting with Nona, the choir director, and two of the guys in the choir. They started talking about the practice and how they felt it had gone, and I got to write down the dialogue between them and their thoughts on it. Maybe not exactly the same thing, but I'm gonna try to do that more. Also in the book, on p 147, I loved how Louise Kiernan talked about how much research went into those few sentences about the piece of glass falling, and how she wanted to tell the reader but knew the description stood better on its own. I want to research with that kind of depth and write with that kind of subtlety.

Being Yourself

I found what Mark Kramer said about trying to fit in with the people he was interviewing at the moment to be very interesting. He gave the example of how he bought a new outfit to blend in with the farmers but didn't have the attire correct so he still stood out to them. So in the end he confirms that it's best to just be yourself while interviewing. I am going to try this while I continue to develop my story. I tend to be intimidated by my interviewees, thinking that they expect a lot from me and that I just want them to accept me, but I have to remember to be myself and why I'm writing the story to begin with.

A question I have for discussion is; is it possible to be too comfortable with your interviewees that you lose some reporting because they are then too comfortable with you?

Quality Writing

In section five of Telling True Stories, Adam Hochschild lists four key elements of writing a strong scene. He states that all details must be accurate, the atmosphere should be described in detail, dialogue should be included and emotion should be clearly depicted. I want to work on including dialogue in my semester project. I always include quotes in my stories, but I don't think I have ever used a significant amount of dialogue. That is my mission this semester

Thoughts on Section V

One thing I never fully understood about journalism is why writers obsess so much over their ledes. It's just the first paragraph. Its importance is only slightly higher than any other graf. If a reader bails after 2 sentences than they probably didn't have the patience to sit through a whole story anyway.

That's why I enjoyed Tom French's section, particularly Principle #4- Open strong, build to better. (p142) I try not to agonize over a lede like Alma Guillermoprieto, who "spends days and days working on a lede" (156) but rather I think about my story in sections. There are several scenes I am considering opening my piece with, but I will not agonize over the first paragraph. I'm going to think big picture (structurally) before focusing on the small stuff.

Digging deeper into the story

The reading from Telling True Stories was helpful to me in looking at my project in new ways. The section on public documents was particularily interesting to me. I found it amazing that the woman's suicide note was a public document, and it showed me just how vital they can be for a story. The section generally got my mind thinking about less-obvious sources for my story, and how I could set scenes in different, more effective ways. I am wondering what the class thought about the writing example on page 135. "From descriptions of similar establishments at this time we can imagine the printing shop itself." Is this necessary, or is the author going overboard in covering her historic/creative accuracy?

Conversations with Val Kilmer

I do like the way Chuck Klosterman starts off his Val Kilmer article with the title "Crazy things seem normal, normal things seem crazy" and on page 200, highway road signs advise motorists that, "Gusty winds may exist." I also like the way Chuck bookends his article with the same phrases.

I would like to ask Chuck why he began his article by talking about the poem Val Kilmer gave him. Why begin your article about an event that happened when Chuck was leaving Val's home, during the end of his four-hour interview? In fact, Chuck's story is told out of chronological order, with random events placed one after another. Being assigned to interview Val Kilmer, an event that I would have started the article off with, appears on the third paragraph. As Chuck's article was written out of chronological order, I'll write part of my essay out of chronological order.

I have to admit that I had to look up the word "Monastic" to learn what it was. Looking up the meaning of words is what some writers, like Val Kilmer, often do to support their arguments.

I like cats, so describing Ernest and Refrigerator was cool. Why didn't Chuck ask the Kilmer family why they named their cats Ernest and Refrigerator?

On page 202, Chuck described Val's home as a "wooden airport." I suppose Chuck's observation was to tell his readers that Val owns a large home? I checked out this article and saw that Val did own a large home. Chuck never goes into detail about Val's home, so I decided to research it for myself.

"Almost four miles of the Pecos River run through the sale property, and Mr. Kilmer says that allows for seasonal fly fishing. Mule deer, turkey and black bear roam the property, he adds. A log-and-stucco main house measures 5,583 square feet, with four bedrooms, four baths and two kitchens. Two separate one-bedroom, one-bath guest houses are also on the land, as well as a 1,400-square-foot, two-bedroom, chalet-style foreman's house. The site, with views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, can also be bought in two parts: a lot of about 1,000 acres, with the main house, for $14 million and an 862-acre lot for $7 million, according to Mr. Vene Klasen, of Sotheby's International Realty in Santa Fe."

a complex actor

The story about Val Kilmer was a perfect example to explain the journalistic concept of building a complex character. I agree with Jon Franklin when he says, "no writer can capture a whole person." However, after reading Chuch Klosterman's narrative... I could argue this in some degree. Yes, it is true that no writer can summarize an entire person's life and experiences, but Klosterman was able to give a distinct image of Val Kilmer's personality, while adding in aspects of his life such as his religion and family. I enjoyed how he started the story by explaining his experiences getting to Kilmer's ranch. I think this was an appropriate start to this story because it captured the relationship with Kilmer's current life and the seclusion of his ranch. He explains how Kilmer is complex and simple at the same time. Klosterman was with Kilmer for two days, but his clean writing made it seem like he was only with him for a few hours and in those few hours he got the complex information that makes up the real-life character of Val Kilmer. I love reading (auto)biographies of famous people because as a reader I am able to get a more complex image of them compared to the media depiction. I think the life of Val Kilmer could be made into a book because he is a complex character.

To add onto the discussion... After reading the chapter of building quality into your work I thought it was very helpful that the topic of building complex characters was included. For my piece that I am doing, I am using my journal to write about my travels to Europe last summer. I have spoken with three of the people I traveled with and they are all different from separate parts of the country. I know they will be a huge foundation to my story and I am focusing on getting every detail correct to build their characters into the story. I also found the part about public documents interesting. I am hoping to do more research then just interviews for this story. I kind of wanted to turn it into an informative story while being entertaining. I wanted to give accurate information on specific places I've been so if someone reads my story and has interest in a specific place, they will be able to look for more resources.

Among the thugs... or one of them?

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Wow. That is my first thought. I'm still kind of processing the reading. Probably the most valuable "tool" that I can take away from Buford is his doggedness in reporting. He really doesn't take no for an answer. He keeps talking to people, he keeps asking questions, he keeps following everyone around. That said, he knows when to back off when a specific person is ready to punch him in the face, but he doesn't let that stop him from going on to the next "hooligan." I loved the story. Let me put that out there. I would love nothing more than to write something like this someday. I admire Buford for his persistence, and mostly his guts. Let me say, though, that the story really did raise a troubling ethical dilemma in my mind, though. The fact the Buford was witnessing this kid getting beat, maybe to death, and doing nothing. I realize that he was a reporter, that he was trying to win these guys over, that he was smashed, even. As he says on page 191, "I was transfixed. I suppose, thinking about this incident now, I was close enough to have stopped the kicking... But I didn't. I don't think the thought occurred to me." I can understand that disconnectedness. But none of that excuses just watching something like that happen. I'm not saying I don't sympathize. I'm not sure what I would have done in the same situation. But our role as journalists should never come before our role as human beings. I found the scene pretty disturbing, and in the end, I don't think even the best of stories is worth the price of becoming, or even silently aiding, the villain yourself.

@#$%& the rules; entertain me

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Being drunk while something epic is going on is the best because in trying to recall it later, you can embellish without even knowing it; and it makes for a hell of a story.
Like everything else we've read this semester, this story raises new questions that contradict many of the basic practices we've learned about journalism.
Of course, being drunk while reporting is considered bad practice; but, you have to wonder whether this story would have taken place if the author HADN'T drank with the thugs, or how his rendition would have been different.
It also raises questions about sources and interviewing. For instance: In the midst of this debauchery, was it ever really laid out between the reporter and sources what was on the record and what wasn't? Are these all direct quotes? How accurate are they? Being that this story was written as a chapter in a novel rather than an article, your average reader won't miss these aspects of transparency.
You're right John; forget about whether or not we liked it, but does it WORK?

Football Hooligans...


I thought that Bill Buford's, "Among the Thugs," was a really interesting reading. Right off the bat it drew me in. The way he used details, like when he described Clayton stepping off the plane and having troubles with his trousers, makes you feel like you are truly part of the scene or are one of the crowd members watching as they step off the plane. He really tells a story and makes you want to follow it the whole time. I like how he talks about the fans in the beginning and how he ties it in and ends talking about the fans to.

I wonder what it would be like to actually be around a team like that and be in the moment with them. When the team knows that there is someone around them does it effect the way the act or portray themselves? I felt like this team acted how they usually would and I thought it was really cool how Buford described in detail the crazy people they are and the crazy things that go along with the team and the passion for football that the fans have.

Among the hooligans

I truly enjoyed reading this story by Buford. He presented the experience he had in a way that kept the reader interested while still getting at the bigger part of the story which was the intensity with which some soccer players support their teams. He also met, and elaborated, on many different characters and presented them in a multidimensional way in order to give the reader a better understanding for how they act in and around the crazy soccer setting. To do this he talked a bout when he met them and other instances, whether he had been there to experience them with them or had heard about them. Giving multiple stories on one person helps a reader get a better understand as to the kind of reader they are learning abou t.

My question echos many of the ones already posted: how does one get to be involved with a situation like this? To me it would seem like the accelerated intimacy compared to that of contaminated access. Simply because while one of his friends knew someone on the team, does not mean (I believe) his access was contaminated. Because not only was he looking into the ways of the fans, but he had to infiltrate the team.

Either way...great story


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I really enjoyed Bill Buford's story "Among the Thugs." I had heard about his entire book before this class and was interested in it, so I was looking forward to reading it. I think Buford did a really nice job of using descriptive details to set the scene and build his characters. "Green Street Hooligans" is one of my favorite movies, which has pretty much the same idea as "Among the Thugs," so that already helped me picture the details. But Buford was good at really painting the picture of what he was experiencing.

One thing I wish he would have done more of was talk about how he fit in. He said that he, "...wasn't going to allow [himself] to be uncomfortable" (166). I feel like being such a blatant outsider in such a close-knit group of people would be much harder than he said.

Buford is a crazy man.

This story is the most interesting piece we have read so far. I can't even imagine partaking in such events for a job. The story has so many layers and elements from beginning to end, which presumably doesn't take place over a long period of time, more then a couple days. He starts basically with two main subjects, but then broadens the spectrum of characters as he meets the supporters. Bill tries so hard not to fail over the same story like journalists before him and I believe he does a good job, as he talks about finally gaining thier trust enough for them to tell past stories, which foreshadow the violence after the match in the end. Its so amazing to me he was in the center of such violence and he was on either side, necessarily. The story is interesting because it is as much about his wild journey as it is about the soccer hooligans he is trying to objectively write about. Most people would write about integrity with him being drunk. I feel as if him being drunk probably saved him some injuries and definately saved the story. Without the drinks him being at the final fight scene with Sammy wouldn't have happened. He went out on tremendous limbs to write this story successfully, but it is interesting to note that still his story read OBVIOUSLY in negative favor of the supporters, claiming they basically almost killed people then quietly wove thier way around police to be the non-violent football loving supporters they claimed to be...yeah right. How in the world as a journalist do you "shit yourself" in a situation so intense as this?

My inquiry letter

Dear John Hatcher and my fellow Journalism 4001 students:

I'm having some problems describing the type of questions I need to ask people in my inquiry letters. If you would, please look over this letter and make any suggestions that you see fit to make my inquiry letter appear more professional and ask for more specific information.


James Buchanan


Dear xxx:

My name is James Buchanan, and I'm a freelance journalist writing an article about the economic impact of Duluth's off-street, recreational and non-motorized transit paths, the Munger Trail and the Lakewalk Trail.

Have you seen any interest in home buyers and apartment residents who have expressed interest in buying a home or renting an apartment by these trails? Have you seen any increases in nearby property values after these trails were built and opened? Do you know of home sellers, real estate agents, or apartment managers who use these trails as positive selling points? For example, I've heard that the parents of some Ordean school students want their children to use the Lakewalk to get to and from school, rather than on city sidewalks.

Within a few years, there is the possibility of connecting the Munger Trail, the Lakewalk, and the Gitchi-Gami State Trail. Thus, the trail would extend from Hinkley at the southern end of the trail to Grand Marais in the northern end of the trail. With worldwide promotion from outdoor sports enthusiasts through promotional websites, publications, and maps, Duluth would be in the midpoint of one of the world's longest recreational and non-motorized transit paths. How would you envision such a trail bringing tourist dollars to our economy, while bringing recreational opportunities to connect diverse neighborhoods?

If you have the time, we could schedule an interview at our mutual convenience.


James Buchanan


I thought that Bill Buford did a really good job describing characters. I got picture them in my head. It was nice that he went into detail about what they looked like because when he started telling the stories of what they did, it made it more interesting, it made it funny. I thought it was also really funny when he talks about the riot in the street "with numbers there are no laws." It is simple but it really explains that fact that there was no fear in being bad. This story is crazy and scary and I could not in a million years ever do what Bill did. When does the safety of the reporter become more important than the story?


Remember way back when at the start of the semester? We read the introduction segments to New Kings and Telling True Stories, in which the authors waxed eloquent regarding the degree of high regard to which they hold the privilege of telling stories for a living, and about the amount of time and energy that they pour into each story.

These are not stories that are constructed off of one phone call and some poking around on Wikipedia. These are stories where the journalist changes their entire life in pursuit of a story. The level of personal investment is staggering.

Buford tries, with repeated failure, to be one of the guys. He is clearly an outsider and is fortunate to be tolerated. It would be very easy for him to call his editor and say that the story simply can't be written because the hooligans simply won't let him in. But he tags along relentlessly and observes what he can. He gets beat up. He probably would do it again if it meant getting the story.

Q: Does the level of personal investment always vary directly with the level of awesomeness of the finished product? It would be nice to think so.

How do I become a hooligan?

I thoroughly enjoyed reading "Among the Thugs" by Bill Buford. The techniques found in Buford's toolbox are my favorite of the authors we've read thus far. He inserted his voice to narrate the story, much like Lewis or Hitt would, but he didn't strike me as just another "smug male author" in the process of doing so. In fact, on page 174 he even says "I wasn't cut out to be a journalist." I found myself captivated to find out if the Man U fans would ever show him the hooliganism or if the story would simply crash and burn. Another aspect of this piece that I enjoyed was how Buford went out of his way to disarm his critics. Naturally, under normal journalistic circumstances, a writer would NOT want to be wasted throughout their reporting process. However, Buford was dealing with circumstances that were no where near "normal". If he's not drunk, not only does he not gain access--he might get his ass kicked. It seems like Buford knew critics would call him out for this, and I appreciated the section on pages 180-181 where he addresses the need for mass quantities of adult liquids. A fun read all around.

Thugs Life

I really enjoyed reading this piece. It is a good example of putting yourself into someone else's culture to truly understand what you are writing about. Can you imagine how lame this story would have been if the author would have just reported on these sports fans without actually becoming one with them? The story would of sucked. This story is also a really good example of writing anyone in our class is capable of doing and could do for our project.

I liked how the piece used just enough description to keep my attention. A sentence I remember is, "And then: a rainbow. The streets, which had been getting tighter and tighter, opened, at last, on to a square: Piazza San Carlo. Light, air, the sky, and the bus slowly, undeniably, coming to rest. We had arrived." It is a really good example at how he sets scenes.

Buford gets drunk

Buford seemed to risk his life to capture this story. That's not something that, as a journalist, I would ever be willing to do. However, I would be willing to submerse myself in another culture to capture a story. The cultural barriers that Buford encountered really seemed to shape the story. No one wanted to talk to the American journalist but once he became just another face in the crowd he seemed to be accepted. (Note: he seemed to gain acceptance when he engaged in excessive drinking with the others-- he cations the reader rather humorously on page 181)

Burford makes interesting jumps between distancing himself from the group and then submersing himself. He uses "we" and "I" interchangeably to make this distinction. At times he seems to be providing a description of "them" (himself not included in the group). Yet, toward the end of the story when the violence that he so longed for started, Buford becomes one of them. His descriptions such as, "we ran" and "we continued" made me care more and more about the story and I could tell Buford did too.

"He had been naughty and he knew it and was pleased about it. He was happy. Another happy one. He was a run, I thought. He was a little shit, I thought. I wanted to hurt him" (194).

Thug Life

In Buford's story, I thought he did a great job in using his voice. This is noteworthy to me because in most cases the author's voice annoys me. The ridiculous situations he was forced to be a part of required the voice of someone who isn't used to doing these things, so the reader could relate. He used parenthases in excess, usually another problem for me, but this time they read naturally and were effective.

But just how contaminated were his sources? We've been told in other readings to never have a beer with a source, and Buford's drinking was a huge part of the story. He immersed himself into the lives that these people really live, and became one of them in a way . Does it matter?

Extreme sport fans

In the story of the soccer hooligans, I thought Buford did a good job making his characters multidimensional. I was astonished to read throughout the entire story about how these men gathered together to cheer on their team that came off as being very aggressive but passionate at the same time, but than at the end of the story I couldn't believe some of the actions they participated in. I mean "gangbeating" children... I mean really?! I had a hard time liking these characters at the end, but Buford did a nice job by the way he set up the story. I think his impression of these guys was also changed when he witnessed some of these violent activities and I think that is why he structured his story the way he did. I think Buford definitely did "full body reporting" for this story because he was able to gain full access to the thug's lives pretty quickly and was a part of the group. Some people might not agree with the fact that he had drinks with them to try to gain access, but I would disagree. In telling true stories it talks about gaining access and basically living the way your sources do, by doing things they do in their daily lives and I don't think he would have gotten the true story behind these thugs if it wasn't him taking chances.

Dirty Hooligans

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I liked the linear structure Buford used in telling his tale. At the beginning I almost like these repulsive men, with their aggressively obnoxious demeanor and sense of kinship. Sure they may be loud and gross and rude, but they're just here for the experience, to cheer their team on in the most passionate way imaginable.

By the end of the story I hated these men. It was a pretty quick transformation; I started to have my doubts at the end of the game and by the time they were gangbeating children my hatred was cemented. Buford showed the good (or at least the mostly harmless) and the bad side of the hooligans. He saved the worst for last because the bad side was the most powerful, and it also illustrated his opinion on the thugs.

I think this story also raises interesting questions about the relationship between the writer and the source(s). Buford was drinking and rioting with his sources, isn't that shattering all sorts of journalistic standards? Is there any line in narrative non-fiction? In fact, it seems like almost every story we've read so far has bent or broken a guideline for finding and dealing with sources that I learned in my first journalism class.

Also I think the concept of 'not shitting yourself' is huge when doing this type of journalism. Maybe it won't be as intense as not running away when violence happens, but doing interviews or merely actively observing strangers can be incredibly intimidating. I think if we go into our research with the mindset that we will not shit ourselves, we can go deeper and make our stories way better.

Mob Mentality

This was a great example of accelerated intimacy, as well as an example of it failing in a few parts. I was impressed by how quickly he was able to gain access to the 'thugs'. It only took a few drinks and "not shitting your pants".
I think that it was well done by not being objective. He used his first-person storytelling to try to get an understanding across of what it was like to be a part of that mob. It wouldn't have accomplished this end if it had been written otherwise. It surely got across the point that those dudes are insane.
Like many of the other stories in New Kings, it seems as though Among the Thugs is a very isolated case of reporting. How often is a reporter allowed to travel with soccer hooligans (though they don't like to be called that) and admit to getting drunk? It was a great story, but it seems as if only high-tier reporters get this kind of freedom.

Buford's objectivity

While I was reading Bill Buford's story Among the Thugs, I bookmarked page 180 because I found it interesting that Buford started talking about objectivity when he basically fully submerged himself into the situation in which he was writing about. Buford states that "the thing about reporting is that it is meant to be objective." He then says that the premise of objectivity excludes "that slippery relative fact of the person doing the reporting, the modern notion that there is no such thing as the perceived without someone to do the perceiving, and that to exclude the circumstances surrounding the story is to tell an untruth." (p. 180.) I agree that in order for a journalist to provide an accurate account of a story they need to depict the surroundings and the environment vividly. If they do not accurately depict the situation, they are risking their credibility. We have talked a lot about objectivity and conflict of interest in class and although Buford immersed himself deeply in his story, I believe that he remained objective. My question for the class is: Do you think Buford remained objective throughout his story? Did he immerse himself too much into the situation in which he was writing about?

Barbaric Fans

While I was reading Among the Thugs I couldn't stop thinking of the movie Green Street Hooligans which is about the Manchester United soccer team and their fans as well. I love the idea that fans have such passion for a team that they act barbaric and insane. I give major kudos to Buford who stuck with the fans that whole time even while people were getting drastically beat up around him. He truly put himself into his writing and for this piece I think it worked. Normally we're told to be an outsider and not assimilate with the people in the story but for this story I think we need the perspective of one of the fans, which Buford creates.

One question I have is how did Buford get the connection to be a part of this trip? The fans seem very weary with who they associate with so I was surprised when they let him follow them around.

Sammy's Thugs

I'm aware that sport fan violence is a part of American sports culture, where crowds of rowdy fans get drunk, smash windows, and overturn cars. To my surprise, Bill Buford's "Among the Thugs" article describes British soccer fans that appear to have made after the game violence into a planned, practiced, and predictable organized sport where soccer fans become players in their own game of playing at being soccer hooligans.

In the second paragraph, Bill Buford describes Mick, a soccer thug who was someone that Buford did not expect. Bill Buford describes many of these contradictions. For example, the thugs describe themselves as just "football fans" that just happen to run into fans of the opposing team who wanted to pick a fight or are simply innocent bystanders who where in the wrong place at the wrong time. Then, Bill Buford describes them after a game looking for people to pick a fight with. I suppose being able to report on unexpected people, events, and places that you did not expect are some of the unexpended pleasures of being a reporter. Similar to Susan Orlean, Bill Buford also writes a speculative section where he puts himself in the role of a "citizen of Turin" and attempts to imagine how he would react to the British soccer hooligans.

As Buford described on page 169, it was "a highly patterned thing." The pattern is that the fans watch the soccer game, and then regardless of the final score the same fans hold their own rowdy game of sports violence. Sammy, their self-appointed leader, was experienced enough to have his own followers, to control his assembly of thugs, to know when to start the violence, and more importantly when to end it.

If I could interview Bill Buford, I would ask him what is the percentage of soccer fans that partake in sports violence? What are the professional football teams doing to discourage sports violence?

Bill Buford's book, "Among the Thugs" was first published in 1990. What has changed in crowd violence in the last twenty years, with the police having more surveillance cameras, night vision cameras, and more experience dealing with soccer thugs?

Lastly, I would ask Bill Buford if the police ever arrest ringleaders like Sammy? After all, if Bill Buford could identify Sammy as the leader who is controlling the mob of thugs, why couldn't the local police?

For more information, see this link:

Journalism is literature in a hurry.

Quote by Matthew Arnold who was an English Victorian Poet and Critic of Literacy and Society, 1822-1888. This is an interesting Mr. Arnold believed and wrote that Journalism was literature in the 19th Century.

More thoughts on Orlean's "The American Man, Age Ten."

Today in class, I was thinking about the real meaning of Susan Orlean's "The American Man, Age Ten."

Perhaps, these stories don't need to have a conclusion provided by the author.

Perhaps, it is up to the reader to draw his or her own conclusions about the events described in the narrative nonfiction.

Perhaps, these stories such as Orlean's "The American Man, Age Ten" are a series of small insights into the life and mind of an average American ten-year-old kid-up. Is it possible that the sum of all these insights are the true meanings of these stories?
I would describe Orlean's story as a "Slice of Life" story. Here is a definition of this term.

A slice of life story is a category for a story that portrays a "cut-out" sequence of events in a character's life. It may or may not contain any plot progress and little character development, and often has no exposition, conflict, or dénouement, with an open ending. It usually tries to depict the everyday life of ordinary people, sometimes but rarely, with fantasy or science fiction elements involved. The term slice of life is actually a dead metaphor: it often seems as if the author had taken a knife and "cut out" a slice of the lives of some characters, without concern for narrative form. It is sometimes called tranche de vie, from the French.

What's the news?

All I could think of while reading this story was the infamous Hatcher saying: what's the news? Why do I care?? While Susan's use of detail in this story was much more acceptable to last weeks story, I could not get over the fact that once I was done reading I felt like I had nothing to show from it. What had I learned from it? What was the point?

I agree that t he use of detail was wonderful in the sense that we needed to know what Colin was like and get a sense of who he was. I think Susan did this wonderfully and allowed readers to get a sense of what a typical American 10-year-old boy is like. The fact that it is a friend's kid just sends me back to contaminated access and makes me think about our stories we are writing for the class. It also made me think about what could have happened had Susan written more critically about this little boy and how the friendship would have remained.

West Coast = Best Coast? Don't ask the New Kings

Susan Orlean's story on Colin Duffy left me asking all sorts of questions. After reading from start to finish, my main question was: What was the point of that? How was a profile of this kid more interesting than one of the 10-year-old everyone wanted to be at one point in their lives, Macauley Culkin. Once I re-read in greater detail, I see why Orlean wanted to profile a 'typical, normal' 10-year-old boy, which became more obvious when looking at the part where she talked about age 10 being the point where the minds of boys get all gummed up about girls. I found her way of jumping from following Colin and describing the actions in his classroom, to more one-on-one conversations with Colin, to her own interpretation of what's going on in his little head to be very effective, as it made for an easy read. Since I could feel this story was going to be set in New Jersey just three sentences in, I have one more question. Does part of being a New King of non-fiction involve residing on the east coast? Ok, I'm asking more questions: is there something they do better out there? Are there any stylistic characteristics that make 'east coast writing'?


I really did not like Susan Orlean's story. I thought it was a good and fun idea to do a profile about a ten-year-old boy and from their point of view, but I do not like the way that Orlean told it. I thought it was kind of weird how she started it off with what it would be like if she was married to Colin. It was funny the way that she had what their marriage would be like if they were ten, but it was just overall weird for me. I feel like she tried to push the thoughts going through a ten-year-old's head to much. Like I feel like some of it wasn't as realistic as it could have been.

I really just was not a fan of this. Would it have been better if she really did the profile on Macauley Culkin?? I think so.

I would have rather read about Culkin...

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Orlean's story profiling Collin Duffy was "cute" in some ways and kind of a nice break from the wordy stories we had been reading;however I found it to be at times annoying. I kept wishing for there to be more of a focus, some significant point in it but couldn't find one. The part I liked the most was when it talked about how strangely 10-year-olds talk. They'll be playing on the playground and all of a sudden ask about a random much more adult topic like abortion. Kids are honest because they don't seem to have a social filter yet, which I thought was very true. My question is if we decide to do a profile piece on someone, how do we make it more focused and not just a jumble of information about someone?

Telling vs. showing Colin Duffy

Interesting take on a ten-year-old boy. I liked the spunk and the personality of the story. I loved Colin Duffy. I felt like we would be best friends. I did feel like Susan Orlean talked a lot more than Colin talked. I guess she was trying to create more of a description, but I felt like she was telling rather than showing. She told us so many things about Colin and his personality, and I really didn't see a lot of quotes from Colin himself. I think there should have been a way for her to SHOW those things about his personality instead of tell them. I also thought it was odd that in her search for a completely average ten-year-old, she picked one that goes to a pretty progressive school where he and all his friends are obsessed with recycling. The strongest part of the story, in my opinion, was on pages 155-156, where Colin provides a running commentary on do's and don't's, likes and dislikes. "I think the most beautiful woman in the world probably is my mom." Classic. I guess my question would be show vs. tell and how this story accomplished either or both.

Tom Wolfe's Official website

As we have talked about Tom Wolfe in class and read about him, I thought I would post a link to his official website.

Smile and Nod

There is a profound difference between the enormity of detail in the American Man story, versus the enormity of detail in the Shapinsky story. The American Man details are focused, true to a single obvious plot, and generally just spell out in print form things that we already know about 10-year-olds, although we have never seen, imagined, or needed them explicitly expressed. We do not learn new things from Orlean's tale. We chuckle and nod at things we know all too well.

Is this a whole different genre of journalism/writing? It is not informative, except for in the sense that it informs about one specific individual child, Colin, nor is it intended to be informative. The purpose is to get us to process on a deeper level something we already know. Instead of just seeing a typical 10-year-old and thinking "oh, it's a typical 10-year-old," Orlean tries to parse out the meaning we all share in the word "typical," when referenced to 10-year-olds. Is this a different genre than information-conduit journalism?

Very Cute Susan, should have written about Culkin

I have very mixed feelings about American Man Age 10. Susan Orlean is a very sucessful journalist and her accolades are plenty, she is an accomplished writer and that shines through in her writing. I thought the structure was very clean and easy to follow. The chronology and all the different settings were mixed very well with personal expirences and "intimate" quotes from Colin. Now as everyone as already stated, a ten year old did not say half of those things. She inferred herself in the story as much as any other people. The parents were left largely out of it, which I did not like. The best friend was good. This is where I sort of turned on it, it is so cutesy. I didn't have the feeling of not caring because I was already engaged and honestly interested about her perspective of some seemingly random 10 year old. But I almost thinks she over-writes it to compensate for the fact that this kid is a nerdy 10 year old obsessed with Street FIghter who his dad fears will never marry. I think Susan made a terriffic effort with the story and she probably is a very skilled writer, but her imagination and impositions she put into the story turned me off to the facination that this is the average ten year old American man, and I just wanted to know what the inference about sex was the whole story? Was that really the side meaning of the story? I don't really think 5th graders need to be learning sex-ed but that's just me. I think you should have written about the 10 year old in "Home Alone", whats his name again???

Caught in a fishing-line web of apathy

Susan Orlean's story was a cute little tale. I liked the style in which she wrote it, and its playfulness was fitting for a profile of a 10-year-old. In fact, this probably could have been titled "Mark Warner: Age Ten"..but so what? What did we learn from this story? The boy is fun, his naivety amuses me (as much as his random maturity astonishes me), but I don't feel like I learned anything from this story; I don't understand why it was written. I know what Orlean meant when she said Macauley Caulkin is NOT a typical American boy, but I think his story would have been much more interesting. At least there we might have found some conflict, or learned the unseen tragedies of being given so much, so soon, like Caulkin was. But what's the payoff for reading about Colin Duffy? Orlean gets left in a web of fishing line as Duffy walks off into night? Not enough. I liked the humor of this tale and that it wasn't 60 pages long, but there doesn't seem to be any substance here. I feel left in the web of appreciating Orlean's writing-style and her ability to converse with a fifth-grader, but not liking this story nonetheless.

Big words, little kid.

I liked this story, but some of it I found myself staring at the pages thinking " way did a ten year old kid just say that." As I was going to post my blog I saw someone's post was titled "why do I care?" and even though I liked the story I have to admit I thought the same thing for a second. This is a ten year old kid who likes to recycle and happens to like black people, sweet. But there's more to the story than that. I think this Colin Duffy is really freakin' insightful for being only ten. I think the fact that he goes to this "Co-Op" school definitely is a big part of him liking recycling, which is a thing that we should be teaching young kids. However, when he says "The world is the most important thing in the world" I think Orlean wanted the reader to think that was such a mind blowing statement. When really it's just a ten-year-old answer, like "what's up?" "the sky" kind of thing.
Orlean really gives you every detail about this kid's life, but I think that she maybe tries to make his ideas sound bigger than they are. Saying he has these big plans to buy land in Wyoming might seem ambitious of a kid of that age, but that's the same as my nine-year-old cousin saying she wants to move to Georgia because she's been there once and likes it. It's not like this kid is already investing for these plans of his.
I guess I'm wondering if maybe I read too much into this, or if Orlean really wants us to think Colin Duffy is some American prodigy or something.

Susan and Colin

Orlean took an interesting approach to the writing, research, and structure of the story. It seemed as though she spent a lot of time with Colin, but as I thought about it more I'm not so sure. Most of the details were things that read like a transcribed interview, and at times seemed strange or out of place to me. Her writing style was entertaining but also at times stuck out as unnatural voice in the story to me. I enjoyed the moments when she would add research and facts into the otherwise casual tone of the story. The article made me wonder-how should a child source be handled when compared to an adult source? I think that the child source can be an easy way out, and at times I thought Orlean could be using Colin as a prop in her story.

As I read this piece by Susan Orlean I wondered how "normal" some of his statements and beliefs were for a ten year old boy. He was curious about some unique things, like money and all of its functions, and yet still enjoyed Nintendo, Street Fighter and Warheads candy. I remember when I was ten I did about everything Collin did, played video games (which I still do) and talked sports with anyone I could (which I still do) as well as pull random facts out of my you-know-what to look cool (which I occasionally do). I also did believe in the girl is mean to you=girl likes you theory. I believe there is no such thing as a normal person, but I can say that there are some typical activities that are apart of a large number of children's lives and Colin Duffy was no exception.
My philosophical question for class would be: If there is no "normal" and everyone is unique, then is it normal to be unique, or unique to be normal?
My more concrete question would be: Why do all these reporter's do stories on people that they know (Gladwell, Orlean) and not get questioned by their editors on "contaminated access"? It seems to be a double standard in journalism.

Why do I care?

I hated this story. I even read it twice. I hated it more the second time. The author did a horrible job of making me care about what she was writing. I understand her assignment was to write about an "American Man" but she really couldn't come up with anything better? It also really bothered me that she followed around a kid that was someone her friend knew. Really? She couldn't go out there and find someone she knew nothing about and had no connections to? I agree with the other bloggers that I got a good sense of who Colin was but that didn't make for a good read. I think the story would have been a lot better if she would have focused on one aspect of Colin rather than telling us everything about him. Focus would have helped her story a lot.

Why do I care?

blog entry due 3/2

I really got a sense of who Colin was. She was very descriptive and it makes me appreciate the imagination of a young child. I liked how she talked about how the backyard will someday not be big enough, and that it can happen so fast. It made me take a look at my childhood and trying to remember my imagination and what I did to keep entertained and I had a hard time remembering. It shows that it made me appreciate childhood and their imaginations. Someday I'll hopefully be a mother and it makes me want to encourage the imagination of my children. Every mother should follow behind their child and study them, rather than "parent" them. They would probably come to appreciate their child more.

When I finished reading, at first I didn't know why this person wrote this story. It seems that the more you think about the story, the more underlying meanings it has. I also started to wonder why Colin? why not a 10 year old girl? why ten years old, not 11?

Do the Big Names Sell Stories or Prose?

Sometimes I see commercials on TV that are literally so bad, I immediately start to consider applying for a marketing job at the given company because I KNOW I could make a better commercial than the so-called professional that gets paid way too much.
This story made me want to apply for a job at Esquire...
Based solely on what we've read in the New Kings book, it appears UMD journalism students are held to a higher standard of media ethics than the rest of the journalism world: Malcolm Gladwell writing about his friend's mom? Orlean following around the ten year old son of someone she knew? Not to mention the predictability of a ten year old being presented in a newsworthy context. If I followed a ten year old around for three weeks, people would probably start getting the wrong idea.
It's not that it's a bad article. The writing is good but the actual "journalism" doesn't seem to be on par with what is expected in our program so I'm primed to criticize it.
Just out of curiosity: If someone in this class turned in this article, how would you grade it? I'm just curious about how the stuff we've been reading lines up with what you're looking for on our projects.

average boy, average story

I liked Susan Orlean's story about the "typical" ten year old boy. It contained a lot of detail and interesting facts and it was a quick read. It covered everything from Colin's appearance, to his family life, to what he does at school and with his friends. My favorite part of the story was when Orlean described what it was like when Colin was building the web out of fishing line in his backyard. I like how Orlean used the metaphor of Colin's backyard to explain how quickly he will grow up. She said, "He is, at that moment very content with his backyard. For most intents and purposes, it is as big as Whyoming. One day, certainly, he will grow and it will shrink, and it will become simply a suburban backyard and it won't be big enough for him anymore. This will happen so fast that one night he will be in the backyard, believing it a perfect place, and by the next night he will have changed and the yard as he imagined will be gone, and this era of his life will be gone forever (158.)" Maybe the purpose of the story is to focus on what the average childhood is like, and how quickly it passes by. Although, I enjoyed reading the story, I'm not entirely sure what the main idea of the story is and why Orlean choose to write a story about Colin. I understand that Orlean's intent was to write about the average American ten year old man, but why did this particular ten year old warrant this story? It seems as though his life could be compared quite similarily to many other ten year old boys. In class, we have been discussing whether or not everyone has a story and whether or not everything can be turned into a story. What is Colin's story?


After reading two stories in a row that were a little difficult to read and get through... this story was really refreshing. Definitely appreciated the fact that this writer decided to do a profile on someone other than a celebrity and I definitely got a vivid picture of Colin. I really like the anecdotes she used to get her point across that this kid is a lot more mature than his age and he doesn't really realize it. There were certain times she quoted him and you would have never guessed he was only ten years old. I agree with the post below that I was a little uncertain about doing a profile on such a young kid. The stories and dialogue she got worked so well with the story that at times I caught myself wondering if the quotes had been said or constructed. I think that there can be issues writers run into when a their story is focused on a minor. She had to spend a great deal of time with him during school, home life and social life. The structure of the story kept me intrigued and it was an easy read. I think what I found most interesting was how much I wanted to know about this kid after reading this story. The writer did a great job in writing for the reader and also creating a character that wasn't just the stereotypical 10-year-old, even though there were many details that did support it.

A Nice Read

What a well put together story. I loved how Orlean used little anecdotes and scenes to show me what kind of kid Colin is. I loved how those anecdotes served as a microcosms, making up a much larger portrait of the modern day 10 year old. Although Orlean put herself in the story, it didn't have the strong voice that Micheal Lewis had. Her style is much more subdued, which was a nice change.

I wonder about what sort of access Orlean got and how she obtained it. I think there would be serious concerns about writing a profile on a boy so young and anonymous. I don't think I would want a story on what I was like at 10. Then again, maybe it would be cool to look back on it, I guess it depends on how the story turned out. Regardless I bet there was some contaminated access.

And it was short. Concise is nice.

Mr. Colin Duffy

Orlean did an exceptional job of getting inside the head of a 'typical' 10-year-old, especially for someone who has never experienced being a 10-year-old boy. It brought back memories of my childhood.
It was interesting to link the developmental theories into the story and connect them to Colin. It drew some similarities to Gladwell's use of scientific material. It made us realize why his actions and beliefs were relevant to anything; it gave us a prediction of who Colin Duffy would be 10-15 years from then.
I was excited to read a story but Macauley Caulkin, but Colin Duffy was alright. I was wondering how she was able to write a story without much chronology. Where was the beginning, middle, and end and how did she decide?

Details and more details

The American Man, Age Ten had a lot of details about the subject, Colin Duffy, that I was confused at first why she was including them. I got a large sense of who Duffy was but there were times when I lost interest and couldn't figure out why the story was being written about him in the first place. I couldn't decide on one reason why the story mattered after finishing reading it.

My question for discussion would be, how do you know when you have enough details about person that you can stop describing them in such a detailed way?

Overview of midterm

Midterm overview

Total points: 50
Section I: short answer (2 points each); about 20 points total
Section II: two essay questions
- 15 points per question (about four paragraphs)
Graded using same criteria as blog
- writer develops their own thesis or key point on the issue identified
- writer supports this idea using an essay that is heavy on specific details and example -- and is not based on unsupported opinion
- writer demonstrates depth and understanding of the readings based on the response
- the writer uses specific examples and page citations from the reading to develop and support the argument being made

I will give you three of the following essay questions and allow you to write about two of them.
Here are some of the possible essay questions:
1. Take one of your own blog entries and develop it further using the criteria identified in the essay rubric noted above.
2. Our writings have talked about characterization and the need to create multidimensional characters. Explain, briefly, what this means and show how one of the authors we have read this semester achieves this. Make sure you show the specific writing techniques and strategies the writer uses to achieve this.
3. What is voice? Compare the voice of two authors we have read this semester.
4. Many of the writings we have explored talk about narrative nonfiction in contrast to traditional journalism. What are some of the specific criticisms of traditional journalism? Do you see them as a valid critique?
5. What is meant by the concept of character complication? Explore this concept by showing how it is used with one character in one piece of writing we have read this semester.
6. One of the readings discussed how author Tom Wolfe writes from the perspective of an intellectual who advances a specific thesis in his writing. Should this be the role of narrative writer? Take a position on this argument by exploring in depth one of the authors we have read this semester.

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