(Reblog) Should I Get an MFA? 27 Writers on Whether or Not to Get Your MFA

The age-old question that’s asked every year: should a writer get an MFA, or should they not get an MFA?

27 Writers on Whether or Not to Get Your MFA

Lots of food for thought from many writers who give their perspectives from both sides.

For those of you who’ve either gotten your MFAs, or are in the process of completing your MFA degrees, what’s your take? Worth the time and investment? Inquiring minds want to know.

An Open Letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell

Dear Roger,

First, let’s dispense with the formalities, shall we? I think I can call you Roger going forward. You seem like the kind of pompous blowhard who loves to go by Mr. Goddell. I’m not giving you that kind of benefit, not right now. Because as far as I’m concerned, whatever cachet you once earned, you fucking blew it.

Look, I realize right now you’re neck-deep in planning a full PR blitz trying to cover the NFL’s collective ass in the shady and despicable way you and the league handled the Ray Rice mess. It was bad enough you insulted every thinking fan out there by handing Rice a mere two-game ban after surveillance footage had been released of Rice dragging his unconscious then-girlfriend (and now-wife) from an Atlantic City hotel elevator, after having beaten her. For a league whose fan base has grown more popular with women over the past decade, the two-game suspension sent a mixed message, didn’tcha think?

Yesterday, TMZ gunned for a Pulitzer Prize and got a hold of the complete surveillance video, showing Rice beating up his girlfriend. Rice was immediately cut by the Baltimore Ravens, and you, Roger, announced that Rice was “suspended indefinitely.”

Bad enough that the NFL now has to save face and do something it should have done months ago, but then it was revealed, perhaps as a shock to absolutely no one, that the NFL not only knew this surveillance footage existed, but that it had seen the footage, knew what Rice had done, and took little action against Rice.

Roger, I’ll cut to the chase here: your actions over the past several months, in how clumsily you’ve handled punishing Ray Rice – and while we’re at, several other NFL players who have also been arrested for domestic violence disturbances – have been nothing short of reprehensible. No amount of back-peddling can repair the damage you’ve brought upon both the NFL and to yourself.

There’s only thing thing you can do right now to make things right: resign as commissioner of the National Football League.

When you took the Office of the Commissioner many years ago, you came in on a “get tough” mandate. Your predecessor, Paul Tagliabue, let’s face it, was pretty soft on a lot of players who’d run afoul of the law. Slaps on the wrist, but no real consistent policy against the players who were breaking the law, not just once, but repeatedly. You became Commissioner and declared that you were going to hold all players accountable for their behavior off the field; they were expected to conduct themselves as model citizens, and if they weren’t to comply, they would receive punishments that befit the severity of their crimes. Your mandate was immediately brought to its sternest test when it came to light that one of the league’s biggest stars, Michael Vick, was operating a dog-fighting ring. While some would argue that the punishment you handed Vick was harsh, I applauded you for taking swift and decisive action. Were you to dither in your decision, this “mandate” you spoke of would have been mere words. Instead, the league and its players took note: you meant every word, and if players were going to act like irresponsible fucktards off the field, then they would be punished like the irresponsible fucktards they were.

Which is why, flash forward seven years later, the lack of consistency you’ve demonstrated recently has been baffling at best, infuriating at worst, and frankly insulting. The message you’ve sent is this: dog killing gets you a harsh sentence, but (until yesterday) beating up your girlfriend or wife gets you a slap on the wrist.

You see, Roger, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t talk about fostering a family atmosphere, yet turning a blind eye to the barbarism that’s taking place not just on the field, but off it as well. You can’t talk about making a concerted effort to make the NFL more attractive to women, and be a major contributor to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, all the while giving a slap on the wrist to players who beat the ever-living shit out of their wives and girlfriends. You can’t preach about a safe environment when you’re given safe haven for abusers in your league, who in turn become role models for others who might think, “Well, if Ray Rice can get away with beating up with his girlfriend…” You can’t talk about holding players to higher standards when you won’t hold yourself to higher standards. You’re basically throwing your hands up in the air and saying, “Well, football’s a violent sport, full of violent players, so shit happens, I can’t be held responsible if some stupid loses his cool and beats up his girlfriend.”

Uh, yeah, you can. You need, no, I take that back, you should be held accountable for the actions of the employees of the National Football League. After all, you’re the head cheese. Nothing happens unless you say it happens, and if you say it happens, then it happens. Unfortunately, your actions regarding Ray Rice, months ago and yesterday, speak massive volumes about your character.

(And I’m not even going to discuss your stance on concussions. Your repeated denials that blows to the head don’t cause concussions are like climate change deniers shouting to anyone who’ll give them credence that wild temperature fluctuations are just normal is simply fucktard science on your part, and a shameless attempt to hide what everyone already knows, so why fucking deny it?)

And don’t give me this horseshit about “football’s a violent sport.” Watched hockey lately? That’s another sport that’s built on pure aggression, but the National Hockey League doesn’t fuck around when it comes to its Code of Conduct. Gary Bettman may be about as useless as a nun wielding a strap-on dildo when it comes to being a commissioner, but his office handles player conduct issues with an iron fist. Players are held accountable. As in, “do something that goes in direct violation with what the league finds favorable, like domestic violence, and you’re done for. Finished.” Leave the aggression on the ice. Off the ice, toe the fucking line, jack.

But you just can’t do it, can you? You can’t make your players toe the line. Because you’re a gutless coward who’s more concerned about protecting the billions in revenue (hence your shameful “there’s no such link between concussions and brain damage” stance) than you are about protecting the integrity and the image of your league. Which is why your position right now as Commissioner of the National Football League is beyond untenable right now. If you really and truly care about the integrity of the league, do the right thing and fall on your sword. The truth about what you knew about what Ray Rice did, and the lengths you took to, let’s be real, protect this scumbag, will only come back to destroy you. The truth won’t tarnish your reputation; it will destroy it.

Which is why you need to resign immediately, for the sake of the National Football League, for the sake of the fans, for the sake of battered women everywhere.

But, really, you need to resign because you’re an asshole, and the damage you’ve caused for being a blind, enabling asshole is more than enough than the National Football League and its fans deserve to endure.

Happy Belated Second Anniversary to This Blog!

For my 205th blog, I’d like to mark a special occasion. I meant to note this a week or so ago, but life’s gotten in the way again, but Out Where the Buses Don’t Run just turned two years old. Happy Anniversary to this blog!

Out Where the Buses Don’t Run went live on WordPress August 29, 2012. When I started this blog, my goals were modest: blog for the sake of blogging, just for the therapeutic value. But I found a community of like-minded bloggers who encouraged me to pursue this blog further than I could have imagined. Without this encouragement, so much could not have happened:

I would not have been Freshly Pressed twice

I would not have been followed by 2,057 readers. Nor would this blog have been viewed 20,115 times, and 2.813 comments have been posted.

It goes without saying, but a thousand thank yous to everyone who’s read this blog, from the day it came online two years ago, to today. Thank you for reading my blog posts. Thank you for commenting. Thank you for sharing my blog posts. Thank you for inviting me to post on your blog sites. Thank you for giving me the freedom and the encouragement to keep this grand experiment going, even when there have been times when I’ve been absent for extended periods. It’s your encouragement that gives me the fuel and the ambition to try new things and stretch my writing muscles on this blog.

You’ve seen glimpses into my works in progress. You’ve taken part in several robust bitch sessions. You’ve read me rant furiously about injustices everyone, or about the shitty sandwich I just ate. Most importantly, you indulged me, and that’s important to me.

Here’s to another year of blogging!

Thanks again, everyone. I really mean it!

I Humbly Accept Your Very Inspiring Blogger Award

One of the things about being a blogger that makes it so rewarding is stuff like this: being nominated for The Very Inspiring Blogger Award. This isn’t the first time I’ve been nominated for this award, and hopefully it won’t be the last.

You can read my previous Very Inspiring Blogger Award entries from December 2012 and March 2013.

This time around, I’ve been nominated by three bloggers: Sam, Tempest Rose, and Barbie Beaton. All three are favorite bloggers of mine, and if you haven’t read them yet, you better. Like, right now. Seriously.

I’m supposed to display the award, which I will. The one that Tempest Rose flew on her entry was pretty awesome, so that’s the flag I’m going to fly on this post. I’m a sucker for a Royal typewriter, after all.

 

 

And now…the rules (and I’m going to bend the rules, so sue me)

  1. Thank and link the amazing person(s) who nominated you – Done. And thank you again, Sam, Tempest Rose, and Barbie!
  2. List the rules and display the award – This is a little redundant, don’t you think…I’ll shut up now.
  3. Share seven facts about yourself – Sure, why not?
  4. Nominate 15 other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated – I think 15 is excessive. But I will nominate bloggers who’ve been following me recently. Those of you who are new to Out Where the Buses Don’t Run have been warned.
  5. Proudly display the award logo on your blog and follow the blogger who nominated you – I believe this goes without saying.

 

Seven Facts About Me:

  1. I’m pleased to announce that Out Where the Buses Don’t Run is now being followed by more than 2,000 readers. For someone who had very modest ambitions when I started this blog, the fact that 2,000-plus people have signed on to read this blog gives me great incentive to keep this blog journey going. So I thank you all for reading and contributing. I do mean it when I say you have a lot to do with the success of this blog.
  2. I’ve developed a sudden and possibly debilitating (okay, I’m exaggerating) obsession with collecting vinyl records recently. I’ll blog more about this itch I can’t seem to stop scratching here soon, but I’ve been posting a lot about this on my Instagram feed as well.
  3. The title of this blog refers to a figure of speech that refers to one’s mental state, i.e., “his mind’s out where the buses don’t run.” It’s also the name of one of the best episodes of Miami Vice. Season Two, in fact.
  4. I recently celebrated my 12th wedding anniversary, on August 31st. But my wife and I consider September 16, 1998 to be our real anniversary; that’s the date we first started dating, and we’ve been together ever since.
  5. I was once the subject of a right-wing columnist’s rage in one of his ill-informed and rather ridiculous columns. It was another one of those “War Against Christmas” opinion pieces, and his column railed against “pagan non-believers like Gus Sanchez of Asheville.” Joke was on him, though, because he was responding to my rather sarcastic Letter to the Editor decrying the whole War on Christmas thing, wherein I signed my letter as “Gus Sanchez, Christmastime Pagan.”
  6. In my household, I’m the one who does the laundry. It’s been this way for more than a decade. I have a certain way of washing and folding, and I’m pretty fanatical about how the laundry gets done. So my wife pretty much has ceded control of this household chore over to me. Not that she’s complaining.
  7. Not that you’ve wondered, but I haven’t joined Twitter yet. I can’t decide whether it’s because I don’t need another online distraction, or whether the world doesn’t need me posting stupid shit like, “It’s occurred to me that Toto’s “Africa” is basically a prog-rock version of “Brown Sugar.” #meaningless

 

Alright, Now Go Read These People’s Blogs!

  1. Chief Writing Wolf
  2. Do Not Get Sick in the Sink, Please
  3. Coach Daddy
  4. Running in My Head
  5. Rough Ghosts
  6. On the Road to Inkrichment
  7. Not a Punk Rocker
  8. Americana Injustica
  9. Your Bipolar Girl
  10. Guy Portman’s Blog
  11. Missing Peace

(Okay, so I only nominated 11. Sue me.)

 

 

Friday List Blog: 10 Books That Have Never Left You (and What Are Your 10?)

For my Friday List Blog, which has been woefully ignored lately, I thought I’d share a few favorites, and ask that you share yours in return.

This list tag has been making the rounds on the Internet lately: without thinking too hard, make a list of 10 books that have stayed with me in some way after reading them. I admit this one’s a lot harder than I first thought. I have well over a hundred favorite books, but to come up with ones that have stuck with me, gnawed at me, hell, even haunted my dreams, that’s a bit of a daunting task.

Nonetheless, I took the challenge. Some are classics. Others cater to my interests and obsessions. All are books I’ll likely read again. Well, except maybe Moby-Dick.

Here’s my challenge to you, dear reader: what’s your list of 10 Books? Is it an easy list to compile, or do you have to put a lot of thought into it? Feel free to post your list below, or post yours in a blog post of your own. If you post on your blog, please post the link in the comments below so we can follow you to your blog. Seems fair, right?

So, without further ado, my list (in no particular order)

  1. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft – Stephen King
  2. A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories – Flannery O’Connor
  3. The Brothers Karamazov – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  4. Kafka on the Shore – Haruki Murakami
  5. Gravity’s Rainbow – Thomas Pynchon
  6. The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism – Naomi Klein
  7. The Stranger – Albert Camus
  8. Dune - Frank Herbert
  9. Love Goes to Buildings on Fire: Five Years in New York That Changed Music Forever – Will Hermes
  10. Moby-Dick; or The Whale – Herman Melville

The Funny Ones Are Always the Sad Ones (RIP Robin Williams)

My first reaction upon learning that Robin Williams had died was initial shock. He was 63, so he was in that age where something like a heart attack could have killed him. In fact, he’d undergone bypass surgery some time ago.

When I learned he’d committed suicide, my own heart skipped a beat. I felt it stop. I read it over and over: Robin Williams committed suicide. He was only 63.

Seriously, I don’t want to write this blog post. Knowing that depression claimed another life makes me angry beyond reproach. Beyond FUCKING REPROACH.

To be honest, I hadn’t thought much of Robin Williams over the years. His creative output – with the exception of the criminally overlooked World’s Greatest Dad, one of the DARKEST comedies you will ever see (no, go ahead, watch it…I’ll wait…you tell me) – left me wondering if we’d seen the last of Williams’ legendary, risk-taking talent. His ability to mine every possible depth of humor imaginable was one thing, but to then see Williams willingly straight-jacket himself and perform so brilliantly in some of the most challenging dramatic roles – after all, he was a Julliard-trained actor, you know – was a testament to his skill to both put everything out there, but to also be incredibly open and willing to take himself out of his comfort zone.

The news of his suicide frankly makes me want to cry repeatedly, because, God fucking dammit, none of this is fair.

Robin Williams didn’t just make me laugh. He made me clutch my sides because I couldn’t catch my breath from laughing so hard, the tears running so hard and fast. I must have watched Robin Williams Live at the Met repeatedly, obsessively. “Cocaine, a drug that makes you paranoid AND impotent? GIVE ME SOME!”

That manic intensity, of being able to go from 100MPH to light speed in a nanosecond, and take risks, was exhilarating, for him as a performer and for us as the audience. But it must has been exhausting for him as well. Because to have that kind of manic intensity means you’re capable of extreme highs and extreme lows. (He must have been bipolar. MUST HAVE) I can’t presume to know about the severe depression that Robin Williams was for him, but I do know what depression can make you do. Or not do.

Some will say he made his choice to end his life, but those are the people who’ve never understood – or have never been under the throes of – depression. Depression doesn’t discriminate, and neither does suicide. Depression made that choice – the choice to end his life. Depression consumed him, in the way that depression consumes so many people, in the way that it’s consumed me in the past. In the way that it probably will consume me in the future.

The more I dwell on Williams’ suicide, the more it hits home: what if this is me 20 years from now? Hell, ten years from now? What if I’m at a point where I’m so low that I’m thinking of this ultimate long-term solution for my short-term problems? News reports say Williams had been “battling depression,” as if this were cancer. Sorry, but I’ve never “battled” depression. I’ve endured it, put up with it, shook my fist at it and cursed a thousand tiny deaths to it. No amount of medication or therapy can “combat” depression, and that’s something we need to understand. Williams was coping with depression, and inevitably he could no longer cope. “Battling” implies Robin Williams was waging a war against depression, and he lost the war. He committed suicide. He was “weak.” No he fucking wasn’t. Ernest Hemingway wasn’t “weak.” Hunter S. Thompson wasn’t weak. Virginia Woolf wasn’t “weak.” They couldn’t endure anymore. This wasn’t a battle for them. Depression is an ugly beast that haunts us and makes us do things we don’t want to do, and tell ourselves lies and half-truths we don’t deserve to hear, and ignore the love and hope that exists all around us. Robin Williams could not bear another day of depression telling him otherwise. So he opted out. And that’s what depression does in its finality. I fucking hate depression with every fiber of my body, because living with this motherfucker reminds me that someday I may be in the same shoes Robin Williams was the moments before he killed himself, and I ask to somehow find some tiny sliver of strength and courage to say, “Not today. And not tomorrow, either. I’m not dealing with your bullshit, depression.”

There is so much we don’t know about depression, and so many myths about depression. Of course we were surprised that Robin Williams would have committed suicide; he seemed so full of life, so joyous, yet he was at the right age when suicide is prevalent among men. How frightening.

This morning, I listened to Marc Maron repost his 2010 interview with Robin Williams. Fighting back tears, Maron expresses the same disbelief everyone feels: how could someone who just seemed so alive fall victim to the lowest depths of sadness and despair? The answer might be in the interview itself. With about ten minutes left in the interview, Williams talks frankly about his depression, and about having once ideated about suicide. He’s funny about this, of course, in his manic, off-the-cuff improvisational fashion, but it takes on a chilling poignancy. If somehow he’d listened to the very same advice he’d given himself during the interview. Give the interview a listen, I promise you, you will not have a dry eye when it’s over and done with.

Maybe, just maybe, there’s a chance Robin Williams is seeing the immense outpouring of grief and love his death has elicited. But most tellingly, the Internet has collectively gathered to warmly remember him and his funniest jokes and his greatest scenes, and acknowledge both the actor, the comedian, the humanitarian, and the person.

Rest in peace, Robin Williams. Thank you for making us all laugh until we couldn’t breathe from laughing so hard. Thank you for remind us “It wasn’t your fault.” Thank you for being so alive.

And fuck you, depression. Fuck you for taking another life from us.