Writing about music

Just finished a feature article about Music Theory and Composition class now being offered at an Oxford, Mich. high school. Funny article. I enjoyed writing it, talking to the teacher and students and getting photos. But as I looked all the musical notations on the blackboard, they made almost no sense to me.

I learned this past year that a grandparent (Dad’s side) and a great-grandparent (Mom’s side) both played stringed instruments. One played the banjo and the other the guitar. Perhaps if I had patience and took my time it would make sense. All I know is that clefs, flats, sharps and notes all puzzle me.

Story about music teacher

Went today to Oxford High School (Oxford, Michigan) to interview a teacher of music theory and composition. Spent about half an hour interviewing him and some students and then taking lots and lots of photos. My theory: the more pics you take, the more likely one or two will turn out nicely. Was a little nervous being around students about half my age. Especially since I look shaggy and am overdue on a haircut.

I got a major haircut a few months ago, but this picture reflects how my hair looks right now.

Man, I feel like a bloody hippie. Never had had long hair and, frankly, it doesn’t appeal to me. I’ve always liked it nice and short.

Writing project

Currently am working on a project for Recreation Management magazine. This freelance client has been an absolute godsend. The editor I work for has turned out to be one of my favorites. Very friendly.

Through this client a few stories back, I almost got a chance to interview football great* Archie Manning. You know, Eli and Peyton’s Dad. It didn’t quite work out as I planned. Perhaps in the future I’ll get to chat with him over the phone.

*Granted, Mr. Manning isn’t in the Hall of Fame, but if he’d played for decent teams he probably would be.

Reader feedback

In the journalism world, it’s always a little nerve-racking when we go to press and wait to see how our articles are received. Recently, I wrote an article about a mother who wanted her kindergarten son’s school to pick him up in front of their house. His bus stop, across two open fields, is about 200 feet away. Quite a distance for a kindergartner, some would say. The transportation department countered with this logic: if we stop in front of his house, we’ll have to stop in front of everybody’s house and will never get to school on time.

In general, it was a balanced article. Still, I was a little nervous.

Not to worry, so far. The mother called today and said she loved it.


Very busy day

Writing work and lots of it. A freelance client has sent me work again, so I’ll be working on that also. Should be very busy the next few weeks.

Happy versus sad endings

Two of my favorite Stephen King stories have dark endings. Children of the Corn, about a couple who gets lost in rural Nebraska, stumbles upon a child-led religious cult, ends with the couple’s deaths. Apt Pupil, about a cocky teenager who discovers a fugitive Nazi and tries to blackmail him into divulging gory information, ends with the kid going on an inglorious shooting spree.

Lessons to be learned: from Children–trust your instincts. If you can see you’re in a dangerous situation, get out of Dodge before it’s too late.

From Apt–never underestimate an opponent that you have the advantage of at the moment.

The movies, though, were bad. Both had happy-ish endings. Apt Pupil’s ending looked very strained, as though a happy ending didn’t really work but they didn’t want to risk offending test audiences by using the real ending.

I like dark endings that are appropriately done, just because they remind us that we live in an evil world that is often unjust and unfair.

Kid Rock’s parents

Am working on an article about a northern Oakland County (Michigan) post office worker who is retiring. She told me that among the famous people she’s had on her route have been Detroit Tigers pitchers Denny McLain and Mickey Lolich and the parents of rocker Kid Rock.

She told me where Kid’s parents live. Sorry, though, won’t reveal that here. Privacy issue, you know. She did say that his parents are very nice people.

Kid also has a house in northern Oakland county. Some people say he can be seen in the area from time to time. I think he owns a bar or restaurant up there as well

Lots of diversity in Oxford, Michigan

Which is especially great if you work at a newspaper and are looking for great story ideas. So far during my time working at an Oxford, Mich. newspaper, I’ve encountered people of these nationalities: English (two), Irish, German, Egyptian, Costa Rican, Chinese, Taiwanese and Thai.

Encountering angry readers

On Friday, while working on an article for the paper I’m at, I asked this one man for a quote. If I gave his name or even referenced his job title, readers of the paper would know whom I’m talking about, so I’d rather not. The story had to do with something that was purchased in the past few months, and I wanted to get his quote on it.

“I’d rather not,” he said.

“May I ask why?” I asked.

“I don’t like your newspaper’s coverage. I won’t talk to it ever again.”

It really disappointed me, and here’s why. I had heard many things about this man and was interested in getting to meet him and decide for myself what I thought of him. Now, it appears that won’t happen.

Oh well.