I have a buddy obsessed with sailing around the world, an obsession I could very easily catch if I thought about it too long. To feed his obsession, I shared one of my few sailing stories with him. For 2-days I got to play pirate on a tall ship, the Picton Castle, in the Great Lakes.
I wanted to repost it because I feel like it highlights the lengths I will go to get a story. In this case, 90-feet off the deck! (I think there are much more talented writers than I am, but I often go places other writers won’t go, and I think that has played a large part in my success.) And more than that this story shows how my degree in anthropology influenced my writing. In anthropology one of the techniques used to gather qualitative data (stories) is participant observation. This means the researcher just doesn’t sit on the sidelines and scribble in a notebook, but they get in with the folks they are studying and get their hands dirty:
“Participant Observation” defined on Wikipedia:
Its aim is to gain a close and intimate familiarity with a given group of individuals (such as a religious, occupational, sub cultural group, or a particular community) and their practices through an intensive involvement with people in their cultural environment, usually over an extended period of time. The method originated in the field research of social anthropologists, especially Bronisław Malinowskiin Britain, the students of Franz Boas in the United States, and in the later urban research of the Chicago School of sociology.
I think the piece below reflects my commitment to this approach. Hope you enjoy it.
(The theme song of this blog for 2010)
Blogging never ceases to surprise me. It seems like the most fleeting of thoughts slapped down end up being the biggest hits.
Here are the greatest hits (some in actual hits and some that I just like) from 2010
Christian Porn Stars Wanted – the most visited post of the year. Sorry grandma.
Travelers Give a Shit – One of the most visited and probably my favorite. I’ll be building on this theme in 2011.
A Popular post written by a boob for boobs…did I mention boobs yet? – In which I rant against keyword driven content in media and blogs.
He-Man vs. Dora The Explorer – rumination on today’s cartoons.
Big Butter Jesus is Toast – Jesus statue goes…
(Photo by Smath via Flickr Creative Commons)
[I wrote the piece below a few years ago about shopping for my then-girlfriend/now-wife, Annie, at Victoria's Secret. I've vowed to post it every Christmas so other fellas know what to expect if they venture into the plush palace of pink. I haven't stepped foot in the store since.]
For most of my life I’ve pretended that Victoria didn’t exist and that her secret meant nothing to me.
Countless times I passed her store, without so much as a sideways glance. Even if I wasn’t shopping with my my girlfriend (now wife) Annie, I vowed not to scan her windows. Why? Because, I wasn’t a…
Well, I grew up quick and I grew up mean,
My fist got hard and my wits got keen,
- Johnny Cash, “A Boy Named Sue”
My name is Kelsey and I’m a dude.
I watch football.
I have more than my share of chest hair — a result of always obliging when someone told me, “Here son, eat this. It’ll put hair on your chest.”
I think someone should invent cologne that smells like campfire or salty sea air.
I cry once every few years. But if you saw me crying, I would imagine whooping you on the spot, but wouldn’t because what kinda of sissy fights while he’s crying.
I drink beer (usually not much more than one or two at a time because it gives me a stomachache).
I spit (if I have something in…
Would you pay $4,995 for Optimus Prime?
That’s how much he’s going for on ebay. This makes me happy because I own this action figure already. Sure, he isn’t in the box and he has swapped a little paint with the Deceptagons. But still, it’s about time the world realized the value of Transformers.
Even if my Optimus Prime were in mint condition and worth $5K, I would not sell him.
Transformers only aired for two years in the early 80’s. Their resurgence in popularity reflects my generations newfound buying power. 10 years ago OP probably went for a few hundred on ebay, but now you could go to the car dealer and buy a real car for what he…
(With the relaunch of the new blog I’m highlighting old posts. I wrote this one in May of 2007 while in Cambodia.)
In the USA we didn’t invent the blue jean. We just made ‘em cool.
Jeans were first worn by the Italian Navy. But riveted jeans were first produced in San Francisco by Levi Strauss. He was a German immigrant. So, maybe blue jeans aren’t as All-American as I’d like to think, but I’ve got two words for you: James Dean.
Here’s one more: Fonzie
Levi’s has such a connection with the average American that they were one of the last companies to start sourcing internationally. The delay hurt them. It’s impossible to compete when your competition can make their product using labor that costs a fraction of…
1) Swaddle = Enhanced Sleep Aid.
Sure, at a certain point it is probably illegal, but what’s so illegal about mom, dad, and baby getting a full night of sleep? Does anyone know when the illegal point is? Harper is busting out of her — velcro enhanced — swaddle already and starting to not sleep all night.
2) When your kid cries and you are the cause of the tears it really doesn “hurts me more than it hurts you.”
I always thought my parents were making that crap up. Last night I plopped down in my recliner while holding Harper. Her head bumped into my collar bone and she started screaming. It hurt me bad.
3) Seeing your favorite childhood stuffed animal — in my case Garfield — sleeping next to your…
Everything I write I read aloud. I would hate to think how many hours or times I read WAIW? aloud to myself and sometimes to Annie.
I read aloud as a I write. I real aloud at day’s end to review what I’ve written. I read aloud entire sections and chapters. Once the book was done, I read it aloud several times through. Each time I would make changes. In fact, I’m still making changes. My copy of WAIW? has sentences scratched out and words added.
Because I love things that validate my behavior (who doesn’t), I enjoyed VERLYN KLINKENBORG’s op-ed in the NY Times, The Lost Art of Reading Aloud. Here’s a bit:
“Reading aloud recaptures the physicality of words. To read…
A few days ago I asked if anyone had any good ideas for a giveaway for the relaunch of the blog (which is going to be awesome by the way). Larry Olson at Wiley, my publisher, suggested he would pitch in an iPod video Nano. How cool is that?
I’m a bit jealous. I’m not sure how the giveaway will be decided, but I doubt you’d all let me get by with being the winner. Darn.
This could be your hand…
“Now, you, Class of 2009, are about to enter the next phase of your life at a time of great uncertainty. You’ll be called to help restore a free market that’s also fair to all who are willing to work.”
President Obama to Notre Dame’s class of ’09
(the whole speech is here)…