Wednesday, June 25, 2008

“Badges?! Badges?! I don’t have no stinkin’ badges!”

That’s probably what Phoenix Suns center Shaquille O’Neal is saying right now. Shaq, who’s made no secret of his law enforcement aspirations and who previously served as a reserve police officer during his stint with the Miami Heat, has had to give up his badge. Seems that Maricopa (Ariz.) County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, for whom Shaq has served as a special deputy (mostly ceremonial), has told O’Neal that he has to turn in his badge.

Seems that Sheriff Arpaio was upset at O’Neal’s use of profanity and racial slurs during a “free style” rap in which he makes fun of former Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant. Shaq insisted that he was merely having fun and that since it was freestyling, it was nothing serious.

The sheriff disagreed, saying that his deputies would be fired for engaging in such racial conduct.

Yes, Arpaio’s the same sheriff who makes his inmates wear pink underwear, work in chain gangs and have access to only the Disney and Weather Channels on cable.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Day the Music Died

Currently, I'm working on what I hope to be 2 columns for publication in February 2009 to mark the 50th anniversary of The Day the Music Died. On February 3, 1959, in Clear Lake, Iowa, a plane crashed shortly after takeoff, killing these three musicians:

Charles "Buddy Holly" Holley, 22, frontman for Buddy Holly and the Crickets
Richard "Ritchie Valens" Valenzuela, 17, solo artist known for his songs "Come On, Let's Go", "La Bamba" and "Oh, Donna"
J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson, 28, disc jockey, songwriter and singer known perhaps best for his hit "Chantilly Lace."

Originally scheduled to be on that plane was a young man who'd go on to become one of the leaders of country music's infamous Outlaw Movement: Waylon Jennings. However, Richardson was feeling under the weather and wanted to get to their next gig early to visit a doctor, so Jennings gave up his seat on the plane.

George Carlin's passing

He wasn't one of my favorite comics, but I'm saddened to hear of the passing of George Carlin. My prayers are with his family.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Giving writing advice

I got to do this recently to someone who's relative new to the freelance field. Among the things I told her:

1) Be persistent. You will likely get rejected for most of what you apply for.
2) If someone wants to work with you, make absolutely certain there is no ambiguity in the payment. I did this once and ended up doing a $100 press release for free. That stunk.
3) Did I mention persistent?
4) For paying sites, look at how much they charge and the services offered and ask yourself if it is a worthwhile investment. If it's not, then you could keep the receipt and write it off at tax time.
5) Don't shy away from free sites like One absolutely wonderful, lucrative freelance relationship came from that site.

Here's something else I picked up while doing one of my all-time favorite freelance jobs of sports gathering at the San Antonio Express-News. The guy next to me was phonr interviewing a coach or player for an upcoming story. As he spoke, I learned three important things to do while interviewing somebody:

1) Be professional. Keep it business--especially if the person you're interviewing is a complete stranger.
2) Be polite.
3) Be to the point. Don't rabbit trail, and don't get into discussions that have nothing to do with the interview--unless it's a brief discussion that could possibly uncover a future story idea.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Great day at work

After finishing my day job, I got home and was able to conditionally complete a writing assignment (I sent in a pending final version to the editor and will send her the official final version by mid next week). Got to submit the invoice. Woo-hoo! Praise the Lord for publications that pay on acceptance rather than publication. Also got off to a great start on the next one. Looking forward to doing interviews tomorrow for this next assignment.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Busy busy day today

Worked on deadlines for three different articles,including one that will get us caught up on rent and help us get caught up on a few utilities. Funny thing: while interviewing an Arizona State athletic official, one of the kittens in our house climbed up my shirt and started licking the inside of my ear. Put it on the floor, and the little stinker climbed back up. Thankfully, the gentleman I spoke to didn't hear the meowing and ask aloud, "What the heck..."

Interview tomorrow for what would be a full-time writing job.