18. about me.

How you can tell it’s a NaBloPoMo month — we’re only two weeks in, and this is the second Facebook meme I’ve stolen from the blog.

I may have bitten off more than I can chew with this one, the *insertnumberhere* Things You Didn’t Know About Me meme. The rules and conventions for this one state that you like a friend’s post and they assign you a number; I liked Mel’s post last week … and she assigned me 15.

FIFTEEN. As in, the most she assigned to anyone who liked her post. I’m choosing to be flattered that Mel thought I could come up with that many reasonably interesting things about myself — even if myself thinks that’s probably a stretch.

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Before I begin, let me make it clear that I’ll follow the rules here — comment on this post here, like or comment on FB and I’ll give you a number. And if you don’t have a regular outlet for Internet Fun, feel free to leave your list in the comments here.

Mushrooms and olives. I really want to like them. But I really, really don’t.

My first craft beer. I was visiting Juan in Brooklyn, and we stopped at his corner grocery in Park Slope to get some, uh, supplies before we went out for the evening. There, in the cooler, were six packs of Brooklyn Lager. I later found Brooklyn Brown in The Union, my home bar in Athens. And my life hasn’t been the same since.

Certified weather freak boy. I’ve always been curious about what makes weather work, ever since our childhood babysitter let me stay up and watch a thunderstorm light up Leighton Road. That fascination has continued well into adulthood, when I’ve voluntarily attended National Weather Service storm spotter certification classes multiple times — the basic class twice and the advanced class once. Understanding the weather helps professionally, but c’mon — as nerdy stuff goes, it’s pretty cool, too.

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Shorts, man. I love this time of year. When the weather turns, I love digging out sweaters and coats and scarves and all the other accouterments. But let’s be clear — if it’s above 30 degrees, I’m wearing shorts.

I’ll die with a beard. The last time I shaved off my beard entirely was late in my collegiate career. I had an interview for an internship with an editor from a major metro paper in Ohio, and I wanted to make a good impression. But I’ve always suspected that I blew the interview because the editor had a glass eye that pointed up and to the left by about 45 degrees. I was so distracted that I don’t think I uttered a complete sentence the entire time we talked (and it’s always been my guess that the paper sent this guy to interview college kids FOR THAT VERY REASON). I didn’t get the internship and Mrs. Crappy liked the beard, so I grew it  back immediately. And seeing old pictures of beardless me are more than enough to help solidify the decision to keep it forever.

My cause: skin cancer. I’m not a preacher. I generally think it’s best to let people make their own decisions. But for the most part, preventing skin cancer is so simple — and it seems that so few people ever worry about it. I’ve written a bunch about this over the years, starting the time the second tumor was hacked out of my left arm. I’ve had three taken from my arm and one burned off of my forehead. And if I had just put on sunscreen when I was a kid, chances are decent that I wouldn’t have had the trouble I’ve had. It’s not a huge deal — none of my tumors have been serious — but given that skin cancer is largely preventable, it’s a thing for me. And yeah, I’ll probably try to make it a thing for you too. Sorry in advance.

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Chateau de Blanc. I have eaten White Castles for breakfast. When we drive from Thanksgiving dinner in Pittsburgh to my parents’ house in Columbus, I will bring home a bag of White Castles for a Thanksgiving night snack. I once picked up 60 White Castles for my father’s poker night (along with another dozen for me) . If there was was a White Castle closer than Canton, Ohio, I’d be there right now.

Best concerts by non-hippie bands. Wilco, especially the show at the Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland a few years ago. Little Feat, on a sweaty August night at the Newport. The Stones, on the Steel Wheels tour in Louisville, especially because that’s the first time I heard them play Sympathy for the Devil (otherwise known as the Greatest Rock ‘n Roll Song of All Time) live. Cowboy Junkies at Metropol, which had temporarily lost its liquor license, making for a quiet, respectful audience. Jorma Kaukonen and Michael Falzarano, in front of me and maybe eight other people at Another Fool’s Cafe in Athens.

Bourbon. The Manhattan is the family cocktail. I come by it honestly.

Irish kid, Italian cook. I have no Italian in me whatsoever, but I love me some Italian cooking — and, uh, eating. Some of this comes from the family spaghetti-and-meatballs recipe, which was born decades ago when the family owned a restaurant somewhere in Columbus; I suppose it also comes from it not being too difficult to do Italian pretty well. Lasagna? Yep. Carbonara? Yep. Improvising and tinkering with pasta dishes? Yep.

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Meeting famous people. It might have something to do with my job — I’ve interviewed senators, congresspeople, Timothy Leary, Graham Chapman, and many others — but I have no difficulty marching up to someone I recognize and saying hello (and it still kills me that I wasn’t with Mrs. Crappy the time she walked right by Ringo Starr in Aspen a few years ago). As a caution — that goes for Internet-famous people as well. If we haven’t met before but I think I’ve spotted you while we’re out, I will stop you and introduce myself.

Best job ever. I have been a paperboy. I have worked in restaurants. I have made it through multiple holiday seasons at a chain of Hallmark stores in Columbus. And I am now a journalist, the fulfillment of the closest thing I’ve had to a lifelong dream. But without question, the most fun I’ve ever had was working at the Bagel Buggy in Athens every Friday morning for one of my senior-year spring quarters.

Work is surreal. I am a trained professional journalist. And nearly everything I do professionally now didn’t exist when I was a student at the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.

The moment I first set eyes on Mrs. Crappy. I was never really sure love at first sight was possible until it happened to me. I was starting a late night at my college paper, and I walked through the business offices just as the general assignment staff — where most of us got our starts — was wrapping up a meeting. I looked over and there was a new girl — long, light brown hair. Round, almost Lennon glasses. Big smile and a big laugh. I was thunderstruck; I think I actually stopped and stared for a second before moving on to the production room. I tracked down the GA editor as soon as I could and was filled in, because she also happened to be Mrs. Crappy’s resident assistant. It took a while for us to connect — although not for a lack of effort on my part — but, yeah, it’s worked out pretty well.

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Hats. In the summer? I’m a ballcap guy. But when the weather turns cold — as you may have gathered from the photos — I’m a fan of hats with stuff on them.

10. i get around.

Continuing my long-standing tradition of ignoring Facebook memes in favor of posting them here, today I present: The States To Which Uncle Crappy Has Traveled.

travelmap

That’s the same map that’s been popping up all over Facebook in the last few days, courtesy of Defocus Blog. Here’s the key, based on the specs of the creator:

  • White: I haven’t been.
  • Red: A brief stop or a drive-through.
  • Orange: Spent a day or two.
  • Blue: Multiple trips.
  • Green: I’ve lived there, stayed there for more than a couple weeks or taken multiple multiple trips.

Naturally, I have more information:

Greens:

  • Ohio: I was born and grew up in Columbus. Athens is my spiritual home.
  • Pennsylvania: Uh, I live there. Here. Whatever.
  • Kentucky: I lived there for just over two years, while stationed at Fort Knox. If you haven’t heard it already, ask me to tell you my Kentucky Derby story.
  • Wisconsin: I spent several summers at the lake houses of Dr. History’s family, on a chain of lakes between Woodruff and Minocqua. Love that area.
  • Florida: This is perhaps a borderline green state for me, but I’m including it because of our nearly annual trips there to spend time with my sister’s family.

Blues:

  • It’s interesting to see how many of these are included in the list because of Grateful Dead, Phish or other miscellaneous hippie-band touring over the years. Several — Indiana, Georgia, Virginia, New Jersey and probably New York — were bumped up from Oranges or Reds because of the shows I’ve seen.
  • Texas: The result of the residence of my mother in law and her husband, and a long family vacation that led to the discovery of the Whataburger chain. That was the same trip when I thought I’d be good an order a water at a restaurant in Nuevo Larado, Mexico; my mother quickly told the server that I would have a Coke instead, leading young me to believe that Mexico was the coolest place on the entire planet.
  • Colorado and Utah: Ski trips. And I need to go back soon.
  • Michigan: The State Up North would have made the list for several ski trips to Boyne, but there have also been football games at East Lansing — a good one — and two trips to that other college town. Those weren’t so good.
  • Hawaii: A family trip — the one that led to our brush with Pele, the state’s goddess of fire — and our honeymoon. The family trip also led to my only appearance in California; our flights to and from the islands both went through LAX.

Whites:

  • Man, I need to spend some time in New England.

that’s the news.

Given that it was never supposed to happen, I guess I can’t be too unhappy that it’s over.

I wasn’t ever supposed to be the host of Newsbreak, the daily webcast we’ve produced at my paper for nearly as long as I’ve worked there; I was just going to fill in on occasion. And I don’t think anyone — especially not me — anticipated that Newsbreak would morph from a fairly straightforward news cast into … uh … whatever it was that I changed it into.

Regardless — Newsbreak the show, along with my six-year run as its primary host, is over.

I did my first Newsbreak on June 4, 2007, filling in because its regular host was on vacation and the fill-in host was off sick. It was … OK (that’s the first one above). We used a studio and a green screen back then, a set up that I was never really comfortable with. It didn’t take me long, in fact, to ask the producer at the time if we could tape my clips at my desk, a format that I largely stuck with for the rest of my time as host. Jen, the show’s original host, had already started to move away from the straight-news approach of the show to something that was a little snarkier, a change that I embraced wholeheartedly.

Jen and Kristen, the other Newsbreak hosts, eventually moved on, but I saw no reason to not continue doing the show. Jacki, easily my favorite producer in that six years, was moved out of the newsroom, so I started working with our then-new video guy. And when he quit abruptly, I was left with a snap decision — give it up, or learn how to do it myself. Jacki had already given me some crash courses in video editing — something that has continued to serve me very well, professionally and personally — so I jumped in, writing, shooting, editing and posting, nearly every day.

It was hard. It burned up a lot of time every day. And it turned out to be one of the most fun things I have done — or ever will do — in my professional life.

I was fortunate that my colleagues in the newsroom have been mostly willing to participate when I’ve had ideas that really required their participation. For example:

Twinkie crisis.

And, the best one we’ve ever done — Steel vs. Cheese.

Why is Newsbreak done? If I’m being honest with myself, I’d have to admit that the show was for a relatively small group of people — my colleagues, my friends and family and, uh, me. In an era where my industry must do whatever it can to maximize its revenue, Newsbreak would be kind of a tough sell. We’ll do a daily newscast again at some point, but someone else will be doing that show.

How do I feel about this? I’m nursing a slightly bruised ego, but mostly I’m happy I had the chance to do this for as long as I did. I can’t really be angry at an employer that gave me the time, the resources and nearly total freedom to do these shows for six years. I wouldn’t have had that opportunity anywhere else.

That’s the last one. I probably shouldn’t have even done the episode, but we’ve done those Pirates picks for such a long time that I thought this fall I should definitely close the loop.

And that’s it. I should thank Jen and Kristen for letting me serve as a fill-in host while they were away in June 2007, Jacki for serving as the greatest producer ever and Evan, our current videographer, for giving me a hand when I got in over my head.

And you guys. Thank you for watching Newsbreak. I’m Mike Pound.

annual kick in the ass.

Leave it to Podcamp.

My involvement in Podcamp Pittsburgh 8 was a bit limited — no volunteering, attending one session and sitting on a panel of another before I had to take off. But it was enough to send me back here for the first time since June.

it was in my buddy Mike’s session on SEO (which, sadly, wasn’t Mike talking about his time in Athens; that might not make for a good Podcamp session, but it would be entertaining as hell) where I got my annual Podcamp Kick In The Ass. Munz does that stuff for a living, and he wasn’t so much talking about personal web spaces when he was cajoling the group about posting fresh content.

But the context didn’t really matter. He asked us, “Can you manage two new posts a week?”

“Yes. Of course I can,” I thought.

And this, boys and girls, counts as No. 1.

we have aaa winner.

Best dunk I've ever seen.

Best dunk I’ve ever seen.

No matter how much I complained about it last night, I’m happy I watched the championship game — it was the best title game I’ve seen in years.

I don’t know if Aunt Annoyed Angel watched last night’s title game, but I guess it doesn’t matter; by virtue of her eerily accurate tiebreaker choice, she’s the winner of the Eighth Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenge (Brought To You By Bocktown).

AAA was one of eight people — including My Mom, who apparently is some kind of college basketball savant, having one our family’s Clark Kellogg Trophy for the third straight year — who finished with 12 points by correctly picking Louisville as the eventual NCAA champion. But her tiebreaker of 157 was just a single point off the actual total of 158 points, and she is our EAUCNFFC champion and winner of our generously donated Bocktown gift card.

I will admit to being nervous as I scanned the tiebreakers from our 12-Point Club, because two of  you — Casey and Calipanthergrl — each picked 142 points. I had flashbacks to last year’s tie — until I saw AAA’s entry.

As I mentioned before, this was a rough year. And that makes me that much more appreciative of everyone who participated, whether as a contestant or as  a sponsor (by which I mean Bocktown’s Chris Dilla). You guys are what makes this fun — well, that and the actual basketball — and I can guarantee we’ll be back again next year for NAUCNFFC.