How To Name Your Stupid Blog

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 11.05.45 AMCONGRATULATIONS ON JOINING THE MASSES OF FORMER ENGLISH MAJORS, HOME CHEFS, AND STAY AT HOME PARENTS WHO THINK  THEIR OPINIONS ARE EITHER RELEVANT, INSIGHTFUL, OR FUNNY! You are (or will be soon enough) a blogger, the lowest common type of writer out there. There’s a dog on the Disney Channel who is a billionaire off of this already, and somehow you are stressing about finding kitschy pictures to annotate your paragraphs with. We welcome and love you – the blogosphere can be a safe place.

Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 10.51.26 AMThe kind folks at Nerdy Dad Shirt Corporation and Speedy Bread Sludge HQ (a subsidiary of Brand-Mart Corporation) want to help you name your newest blog that will either go nuclear-ly viral or fold within six months. The name, however, can be something you’ll spend forever thinking about until you realize that literally a million people have already done this and done it better than you could have thought to do. Or not. Do not lose heart! Do not despair! Back in grad school you were going to be Isabelle Allende or John Updike, but you’re currently searching your brain for the perfect quiche metaphor or fart joke. And soon you’ll be writing thousands of words about trending topics and wondering where your integrity went. Just think of a blog as a start in the right direction of the career you’ve always wanted, without the risk of painful failure. Right now anyone with enough money for a coffee can Free-WiFi-it into the internet hall of fame for a day with the right snark or hashtag.

But first you need a name.

Side note – “blog” is an awful word. It was originally coined as an ironic joke, and then somehow became a overused, daily, easily-reportable word. “I write essays” or “I write for the newsletter” sounds distinguished. “I write blogs” sounds like you stencil names on silly putty.

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So let’s name that blog – er – distinguished website featuring your ingenious prose : Disclaimer: ALL the cool mom, dad, media review/reporting, and foodie blog titles are taken, so it’s up to you to be original and clever with whatever words or phrases are left.

– You want something catchy or at least forgivable when it’s been read and said two thousand times. Remember, you can always say “I always hated that name” if you tire of it, or you can embrace it if it brings you success. FartyDadBlog as a title you might regret when Rolling Stone publishes your top ten reasons babies are like senile orangutans.

– Pick something your grandma and best friend would think is clever but doesn’t take too much to explain, although sometimes people like a difficult name because it sounds interesting, albeit foreign or confusing. You’ll have to say this name over and over to web designers, friends, strangers, and then see it every day online when you’re checking your abysmal stats, so be careful. Like a long-lasting professional-type email, be obvious but not too obvious. never looks good on a resume.

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– Unless your blog name just presents itself to you, you might have to work on it a bit. Pick an adjective, noun, and -or- vice/niche word combination and go to work. The words don’t have to match, and sometimes juxtapositioning an odd combination just feels right, even if it doesn’t make total sense. CrumbBumMum, a mom blog about all things Holden Caulfield, just might work.

– Use a phrase, song title, band name, or word all-too-familiar and make it yours (FrackSabbath would be an awesome blog about fracking – take it, it’s all yours). If this blogging thing feels like it might be more than a hobby, just use your name or a really clever pseudonym. Like a band naming their LP the same name as the band, it’ll take a few rounds or albums before becoming the iconic, one-of-a-kind you site.

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 7.53.01 PM– In the end, it’s your talent, content, and voice that matters, and although the sea of blogs is wide and deep, your vessel matters. Still, Oedipal’s Edibles would be a great name for a foodie blog written by a former Classics Major.





About Me and Why I Write

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I JUST WANT TO BE AN EXCELLENT WRITER. That’s it. Keep me pure. I want a future where I’ve written so much that I can showcase my texts on a handmade shelf in my office. And then I’ll be somewhere pining over my latest piece or novel or story, wondering if I can keep up with myself and my readers. I just want it all to be excellent.

Personally…I have an amazing wife and three children who color and create my universe in the best possible way, and I am the luckiest man ever. I will never tire of thinking or saying that. I’ve taught high school English and coached soccer for more than a decade now, and I get to write curriculum and tutor kids too. I love all of it, I really do. I’m currently editing a book of essays and working on my first novel and my first graphic novel. I also have a ton of short stories I’m trying to sell to magazines. Oh and I do all of this in Massachusetts.

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I write because I’m a writer. I have ideas every day and have to put them down. I see stories and characters and conflict where there are none, and then create a world to encapsulate these motifs, even if the worlds are short and combustible. Some stars need to explode.

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I write because I have to. If you’re a writer and you try to walk away from writing, and you do so successfully, then you’re not a writer in the existential sense. If you write every day, and dream about more time to write, and scan and re-read books looking for those magical pockets of literary moments that made the writing alive, and practice them yourself, and think about your life in terms of when you can become published, then you are a writer. But you have to write.

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YEARS FROM NOW some kid will be forced to read my novel or one of my stories or essays in high school, and think the title is boring, and not really read it, and hopefully the enthusiasm of the teacher will carry the day. I’m okay with that, because I’ve been there as a reader and teacher. But if one of my writings made it into the classroom? What an honor. That means that someone was so moved by something that I wrote that they would want to share it with a class. I do that as a teacher and it’s one of my dreams for the future.

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Backyard sledding.

I’m finally at the beginning of where I want to be as a writer…I want to thank la ostra magazine, The Gloucester Clam, BLUNTmoms, the Original Bunker Punks, DAD Bloggers (Oren Miller’s group), and The Good Men Project for allowing me to work and do what I love, so far. I’ve just started.

Here's me with Gatsby.
Here’s me with Gatsby.

…And now for the interview questions from the Original Bunker Punks tour:

Original Bunker Punks: What is your most prized possession?

Me: I have so many…I’m a few steps away from being a hoarder, says my wife. But with a wife and three kids there isn’t one object that holds all the prized possessive power without alienating someone. I have this ratty sweatshirt that is in most of our family pictures, including a few Christmas pictures, and I wear it every night, next to my wife or holding my children, or sitting around the house. So maybe that. I don’t even know where I got it.

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In real life I sort of look like Hans from Frozen. Really.

OBP: How do you unwind after a long day? 

Me: Time with the kids, a drink or two, and something on DVR with the missus. Or writing if I stay up past everyone.

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Back from protesting days.

OBP: What is one song that has followed you throughout your whole life?

Me: “Rocket and a Bomb” by Michael Knott. I’ve listened to it and his Aunt Bettys album on a monthly basis since 1996. I have the mix tape “regulars” that span the spectrum, and it’s on every one.

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Hosting “Hey Everybody! Take Care, Have Fun!” …the series was short run.

OBP: If you could give one piece of advice to new bloggers in your field, what would it be?

Me: Just focus on the writing. Forget the likes and shares and all that – but it’s easy to get caught up in it. And take your time making it really good. If the writing is no good, then we can see right through it. Decide what you want the blog to be, and stick with it or change it, only based on the purity of your goals. My goal is to write at least a hundred good essays, and then make a career out of writing that I’m proud of away from the blog world (that may not happen the way things are). I have lists of writing goals to keep to and change, and it took me about seven tries to make a blog I liked and kept with. Nerdy Dad Shirt is still an experiment!

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Uncanny or ironic or fitting? Father’s Day, 2014.

Original Bunker Punks: Now that you’re famous, we need a quote from you.

 Me: “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.” I stole that from Ralph Waldo Emerson.

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Beardo, grading papers, 2004.

Thank you! Leave a comment if you’re still reading…

My People Run The World Now

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Years ago during a night shift job I got hooked on the old Comedy Roast commercials – not the actual roasts,  which cost money to order, but the commercials featuring Dean Martin, Johnny Carson, and the old comedy guard of the 60s and 70s. You’ve probably seen them: half hour commercials featuring the Rat Pack and an aging Lucille Ball and that schticky woman who hit people with her purse, all on a dais with Carson and Martin and Rickles and Rich Little and even Truman Capote. There was something official about them – the forty-somethings who once ran the world of entertainment, all smoking and drinking and made up to look younger on camera, those comedians and entertainers born out of the earlier golden age of entertainment, which had been the original age of television, right after people stopped buying radios.

Now that I’m thirty-five, I’m realizing that my people now run the world – that is to say,  the world of entertainment and education is run by twenty-five to forty-year olds, but specifically thirty-five and up category. The world of entertainment and media is run by the Class of 1992 to 2002 – and I’m inbetween as the Class of 1997, so there’s a range to fill, like Mark Zuckerberg being five years my junior and Kayne West a year my senior; the cast of SNL which I’ve followed every Saturday night since I was thirteen now runs every movie made it seems, including all the movies I rent for my kids; music belongs to the young, but the judges on the Voice and those other judge shows are in their early forties, if not closer to thirty-five. Justin Timberlake, Brittany Spears, and Usher are all slightly my youngers – so my people run late night and the radio too, which is evidenced by a thirty-nine year old Jimmy Fallon having a forty-five year old Will Smith and a fiftysomethings U2 on his first show.

Whoever the new Frank Sinatra is – Jay-Z? – I’m the plebian radio listener who is stuck inside of a time period where he is the Boss, and I’ll be stuck with that until, in the elderly care system when I’m 91, I’ll still be reciting every word of “Hard Knock Life.” I think of my grandmother’s love for Johnny Mathis, and my parents’ generation love for the 60s acts, and the entertaining class that I’ve stuck with since the 90s  – we are all servants of the same maxim: the world is always run by twenty-five to forty-somethings, whether it’s the book you’re reading or show you’re watching. Go ahead, look – then google the age. You’ll see. More often than not, you’re reading something written by someone more successful and younger than you. It’s okay.

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Kurt Vonnegut once wrote, “True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country,” and unfortunately, and logically, that’s what is happening now. Whoever owns the company that owns the company that owns the company that produces that show you love, is well aware of the class of 1992, ’97, and ’02. It’s our time! Those teenagers are on our tail, and soon we’ll be too old, fat, and bald to have a say. But until then, damn it, we run this show.

Just think, Dr. King was in his thirties when he helped shape the world; Thomas Jefferson was thirty-three in 1776; Hemingway, Whitman, Fitzgerald, Bradbury, Vonnegut, Updike, Baldwin, Dave Eggers, you get the idea: all of them did their best or first works roughly in this magical age. Christian Bale’s Batman was roughly twenty-five but played by a thirty-something (he’s now forty) and the new new new new Batman, Ben Affleck, is forty-two. And I’m still contemplating my theatre degree.

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Nowadays the Comedy Central Roasts are hosted by my people – early forty-somethings or late twenty-somethings trying to make it on the B list, usually roasting legends who beat the age curve. And in twenty five years, will we be watching outdated celebrities on late night television infomercials? We just might.

In fact, most dramatic or comedic hit movies out there are about “a 36 year old guy trying to find his way” whether it’s Ryan Reynolds, Ryan Gosling, or Bradley Cooper, who are all, well – my age. At some point my age became the safe place to launch a thousand film tropes and arcs from. Only all of them are hapless, single, childless guys still with their own hair and much too physically fit. Hollywood, make that money off of my people!

So, well…Shit. I have to get to work. I won’t be young forever, but at least my students think I look young – especially when I shave my beard off. “Twenty-eight,” they say. Or twenty-four. A guess a decade doesn’t matter in the eye of the mind of the beholder.

I am reminded of Whitman’s lines in Leaves of Grass, “now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin” and I’m a bit comforted. Once on the dais, with good make-up, we can look eternal. Even if we’re only thirty-five.