Sunday, December 13, 2015

Big thank you 2015 edition

Journalism and writing requires help from others to get anywhere. Logically any job requires help in the form of someone hiring you but my work is a little different because I sink or swim at the mercy of a lot of people and while I would argue that this is a more exciting way to live, I have to depend on the kindness of strangers quite a bit.

I'd love to say that journalism is smooth sailing but from my experience some editors and fellow writers have not necessarily given someone like me the courtesy of reading a pitch in a timely manner or giving me a helpful response and there are at least a dozen ways in which someone else can make what I do more difficult. These people aren't necessarily bad or doing anything wrong but their main affect on me is that I have a need to give my appreciation to the people who have been helpful to me when they easily couldn't. I can't guarantee that these people aren't horrible either but to me they have all deserved a thank you.

So here goes:
Let me start out with the editors who decided to publish my work. A big thank you to Brent Baldwin at Richmond Style Weekly and Rachel Sadon at DCIST for making me feel like a journalist in the past few months when my work dried out. In addition, a big thank you to Alexandra at Reston Lifestyle Magazine (for giving me a second chance), Aaron at Bethesda Now, Christina at Washington City Paper, Scott and Dave at Inside Nova, Collette at the Skagit Valley Herald, Brendan McGinley (@brendanmcginley) at CBS Mancave, Carissa (@ModWildTV) at TV Fanatic, and the editorial team at Cracked for all the money you have given me. In all seriousness, I also want to thank work that you do in a shaky industry,your capacity to work with me and the validation you have all given me as a writer. There is also an editor named Steve Cahill at Fairfax Times who I wrote for seven years ago and was generous enough when I tried to reestablish contact this past Spring before his paper was suddenly bought out and management rendered him obsolete. While I have no reason to believe his successors aren't equally good, I do feel like giving an RIP to the career of a good editor.

Reporting also involves not just the cooperation of editors but people you're writing the story about so I have to thank these subjects for their patience and generosity. Thank you violin maker Don Liester for trusting me with your story. Ditto to the Maryland Stamps and Coins (I know it wasn't easy), the Bethesda Vapor Company, the Berklee College of Music a capella group Pitch Slapped, the Louisiana Kitchen Conpany, Human Movement Management, that tae kwon do studo in Bethesda, John Lehr, Klezmer band Ahava Raba, Glen Carlyn Elementary (especially for trusting me to wander around the halls of your elementary school), the HB Woodlawn Theater Department (a special note: sorry for spilling iced tea on the HB Woodlawn auditorium although you probably didn't know it was me), the Jews that have gone Off the Derech, and the producers and directors behind Mercy Street (even as I flunked the impromptu quiz over whether I had watched the screener). Some of you guys were enthusiastic, some of you guys wanted me to go away, some of you lent me your couch for an afternoon and then some (BVP) but you all trusted me with your stories and that helps me a lot so thank you. If you click on all those links above and check out what all those organizations are about, you will have officially won the internet.

By far, my favorite subjects this year were the McCoy family of Washington State who had the time of their lives at the National Spelling bee and enabled me to experience their joy over the course of a week aside from being extremely good as interview subjects.

Then there's the people on the PR and event production side of things. In particular, the Scripps National Spelling Bee, The World Fire Games dodgeball tournament, the Ugly Sweater 5k, and the Mercy Street screening (where I went behind the scenes and interviewed the producers) were four of the coolest things I've ever been a part of, so whoever ran those events, keep doing what you are doing and thanks for letting me be part of the ride. The PR agency that allowed me to interview the talent behind Mercy Street: I have no idea why you left me in a room alone with actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead, director followed by former Star Trek actress Roxanne Dawson, but be assured that all I did was forget quicker than usual what I was going to ask. I've had somewhat of a whirlwind covering FX's Archer and I appreciate the sincerity and honesty of a certain PR rep for FX networks in dealing with some tricky waters I had to navigate this past April. There's also good evidence that this particular person read my reviews and liked them which would have likely doubled my readership so yay.

Beyond that, I'd like to thank my friend Adam Spector for running his discussion group and making me feel like part of a community here. Adam was generous enough to cross-blog with me and incorporated that into a group discussion which was a thrill. Adam's film column is here.

To top it all off, Spector generously agreed to squeeze my friend Will Harris into the discussion schedule which brings me to the next name on my list. I was happy to meet Will Harris in person this year and give him a speaking gig but it's hard to truly repay Will for all his generosity. I have no idea how Will can even keep up with the constant barrage of questions I level at him and before I met him, I was fully prepared to believe that "Will Harris" wasn't an actual person but an internet call center in the Philippines managing a correspondence with me. To follow the incredible Will Harris and hear about his interviews with some of Hollywood's biggest stars, check him out on twitter here.

Speaking of other writers I know, I have to extend a thank you to a former videostore manager in Portland, Maine who now devotes all his time to writing named Dennis Perkins who was my "Halt and Catch Fire" doppelganger this past summer. Perkins has occasionally lent an ear to me over the past year over FB chat and twitter and telephone and Skype and visits to his house at 2 in the morning. Ok, the last three items on that list are not true but that doesn't make Dennis' contributions any less important. I'm making a special mention of Dennis here because, as far as I can tell, Dennis is just an intrinsically good person who doesn't realize how nice he is and so I have had trouble letting Dennis know that he  has been unusually kind to me. I thanked him for accepting my Facebook request and he simply said "of course" like befriending a writer you've never met before in life who wants advice on how to write like you is just no big deal. So thanks Dennis and if everyone else wants to also enjoy unusually good person Dennis, give him a big bear hug. Bearing that, follow him on twitter and cheer on his pwnage of the English language at @DennisPerkins5.

Speaking of people who you should enjoy on Twitter, there are a bunch of really important writers out there who I personally have enjoyed like Daniel FienbergEmily Nussbaum, Chris Becker, Cory Barker and Matt Zoller Seitz on Twitter (they're all big and enormously famous, so I'm sure googling them will reveal them and I'm too lazy to look up five more twitter handles). These guys have made a conscious effort to dole out advice and conversation to help a more small-time writer like myself and that's a big deal. Becker, in particular, has entertained me at my most bored moments by conversing with me on Facebook. There's also Daniel T Walters who doesn't consider himself big-time, so just follow him on Twitter anyway at @danieltwalters.

Over at Cracked, I have to give a thanks to an enigmatic writer known as Tara Marie who just popped up out of the blue and saw one of my entries to completion (pausing briefly to rescue several Metropolitan citizens from a burning building). I also have to give props to the interview team for giving me a chance to prove myself, Kier Harris (@notanotherkier) for tipping me off to another editor, and my friend Evan Symon, who like Will Harris, I had the pleasure of meeting this year. Evan has been a tremendous source of support through the tough times and you should give him some love by dropping everything you're doing and spending the next 6-8 hours reading all of his great work in chronological order. In fact, thank you to everyone at Cracked for providing an improved environment this year for me to work productively in.

Let's see, who else:
-Thank you to AV Club writer Mike Vago (@mikevago) for leaving some encouraging comments a couple of times about a personal phobia I have
-My friend Emily Jeffers has bothered to read my stuff and became my 28th follower on this blog. She has oodles and oodles of encouragement to give and is starting a wellness company so you should follow it on twitter, or give money to it, or sign up for it, or bake her a cake or whatever you do for someone who runs a wellness company. Apparently, Emily's middle name is Michael which is kind of funny. All the more reason you should donate to her?
-I'm really glad to have a new friend named Danielle this year who really has inspired me to stop bitching about how tough journalism can be sometimes. Follow Danielle as she shows the state of North Carolina how it's done at https://twitter.com/DBattagliaNR
-I have to thank editor Cody Schultz for never once complaining or having a negative attitude as the editorial situation at that particular publication was getting increasingly difficult. Thank you Sandra as well for your service as an editor. Sandra's work can be read here, and I have a hunch that you'll find Cody here (mostly because I put the link there myself, who knew?).
-Thanks to Shell Harris at TopTenz for making room for me on his pitching schedule. Hopefully, we can make that article work sometime in the future.
-Thanks to my friend Liz for making me a special guest on her podcast twice this year. I've never done a podcast before but I've watched other people brag on Twitter about being on a podcast, so now I have something to brag about too. Her podcast is here.
-My sister has a friend who if I'm not mistaken has recently read my writing and complimented me on it and has even agreed to help me with one of my latest articles.
-As always, I have to thank my sister Yasmine for not reading my blog. This has freed me of the responsibility of having to read her blog, because it is pretty boring. But, hey, judge for yourself, and maybe you'll like it: kalksteins.BlogSpot.com. In all honesty, I'm really proud of my sister this past year, in addition to continuing to give a home to a dog, two children, and leading a brownie troop and being active in her synagogue, she has recently started a non-profit on top of her day job. What is this non-profit you ask? I have no clue because I can't find the link to it and she's not around, but be prepared to get your wallet on standby to drop it like it's hot when I announce that name at some point because you're gonna want to donate to that fantastic cause.


If you want to see me rant a whilwind of thank yous like Halle Berry at the Oscars in past years,  check out the Friends of Blog tag at the bottom

1 comment:

Erin Marie said...

What an amazing shout out, to Liz & our little podcast. 💚 Thank you for this, sincerely. We hope to collaborate again for season 2... The Oscar obsession is real. I treat the Academy Awards like my Super Bowl; my 2015 doesn't truly end for me until after that broadcast.
Happiest of Holidays & a Fruitful New Year,
Erin Marie 💜