Total Work Moves

29 Jan

When your job involves a lot of constant deadlines, you have a lot of, “If I can just get through this week…” moments. Sometimes it’s a whole month and last year it actually got to the, “If I can just get to mid-December…” point.

Last week, I knew that I had a very large story due for the Sunday paper and that as soon as that was done I was going to have to turn around and produce my weekly column, too. I spent about a week trying to knock out smaller assignments and to get everything else out of the way so that freight train could pass without any interruptions.

Things worked out fine, like they always do. I knew this, inside, that things would work themselves out one way or another.

But there’s always that scary moment when you wonder if you really have any idea what you’re going to write and if it’s going to come out in what my mom sometimes calls a chorro (a flood or torrent in Spanish, or if you’re being gross, a diarrhea) or if you’re just going to sit there and wait and nothing magical happens.

Luckily, as happens most of the time when I’m under pressure, it was the chorro.


This is a weird story, so bear with me. One of the articles I wrote last week ran in Sunday’s paper. It’s about a very popular website called Total Frat Move. That website, which is based in Austin, has turned into a very successful web empire which spawned a book that is already a New York Times bestseller and will likely become a movie.

I met with the guys who run the site a few weeks ago thinking it would be no more than a short blog post or book write-up. An editor instead suggested I do it as a Sunday lead story. Then the pressure started and I tried to figure out a way to say something more than “Here’s a website, here’s a book.” I transcribed my interview notes and did a lot of online reading. I read the book itself, which was kind of a disturbing and problematic read for me being that I have two daughters I hope will go to college one day. There’s a lot of ugly humor on the site and in the book, stuff that even in the guise of being a joke or satire is still really rough to read for even a jaded-ass, South Park-watching vulgarian such as myself.

I tried to convey that in the story, a story that ended up being much longer than I anticipated and written in a tone that tries to be neutral in the face of material that we would normally not highlight and put in front of our readers.

Clearly, it wasn’t what the subjects of the story expected:

But I’m kind of proud of this weird, long story I wrote. I don’t know that anyone else would have written it the way I did and sometimes that’s a pretty significant kind of victory when you stick words next to each other for a living.

The other piece I wrote last week was a Monday column about taking a break from or giving up social media completely as Vicki Flaugher is doing.

Like anyone who’s been using social media for more than a few years, I’ve fantasized about massively pruning the number of people I connect to, taking a long break or just walking away. The work I do doesn’t really allow for not using social media and most of the time (OK, half of the time), I really do enjoy and get a lot out of these online connections. But it can be tiring, stressful and time-wasting.


Speaking of exhaustion, last week, I wrote a column about transmedia storytelling, specifically authors who are mixing book writing with online game worlds, interactive games, real-world events and other new media. This is not new, of course. Authors have experimented with this kind of stuff even through the early days of computers and CD-ROMs and all through the Internet era. But the sheer ambitious some of these authors are showing in carrying out their vision is inspiring and a little intimidating.

I say this as someone who’s spent the last couple of years trying to write a Goddamn Book™. The idea that instead of working on one book or two, you just up and say, “How about 7 or 10 plus an MMO?” makes me want to go down a gigantic popcorn bowl of amphetamines. (No, not really, it actually makes me want to nap.)

Photo by me! Austin billboard

Other bits: I wrote about a woman who won a billboard from Ben & Jerry’s for an Instagram photo she shot. In the Digital Savant Micro feature, I defined “Gorilla Glass” and explained Facebook’s Social Graph.

Bobbo and Meany

We’re still diligently working to revitalize our “Space Monkeys!” franchise after that very long absence.

Comics come out every Wednesday, like these two recent ones.

In addition to the Facebook page I’ve mentioned, they now have a Twitter account, too, where Bobbo and Meany talk about ship and space stuff. Give ‘er a follow, why not?

Other random things that happened recently:

I bought a swing set for the girls. That’s an adventure I’ll probably write about in full after it’s set up.

We went to the circus! It sounded like it might be terrible but instead it was the opposite of terrible, which is CIRCUS AWESOME! Seriously had a great time and these daughters of mine loved it.

I wrote 50+ pages of something in less than a month which must mean I’m pretty excited about it. If it keeps on at that pace, I hope to have some news of it to share by summer.

Started playing around with Vine and made this video:

Took this picture of the girls on a beautiful walk around the neighborhood:

January walk

So it’s been a good January. A good year so far.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

  1. Real life | Terribly Happy | Bloggystyle - February 17, 2013

    […] pieces I wrote after the whole Total Frat Move thing got a really nice […]

Demarcus Walker Authentic Jersey