A yard in the making. (Credit: Joseph Pinciaro)
When I started with the News-Review about a year ago, one of the newer concepts I had to get used to was writing a regular column.
“Nice!” I thought. “Columns are great. I can take a look at something, make it hilarious and/or insightful, and I can have a grand old time writing, just like I imagined when I got into journalism years ago.”
Get a fresh cup of coffee as the sun rises … or a cold beer as the sun is going down (or maybe whiskey — was that what Breslin drank?) … and a magic column miraculously comes forth, right?
Not so much.
Writing a column is much harder than it seems. What I find funny, zany or generally worth knowing doesn’t necessarily translate to something you might care about, be able to learn something from or is worth your time to read.
With that in mind, I figured I’d run through a few column ideas that I’ve dropped in the past year. You be the judge on whether or not they’d translate well to a full 800 words.
My obsession with fantasy sports: I’ve been playing fantasy sports since I was probably 13 years old. It was actually the first thing I ever wrote about for my college newspaper. And I’d say in the past five years the whole phenomenon has really taken off — to the point where ESPN devotes hour-long segments to fantasy sports.
But my wife is quick to remind me that, by its very definition, my fantasy baseball and football teams are not real. Still, the prizes I’ve won have been real! My name is actually engraved on our trophies, which provide me a real sense of accomplishment over my college buddies. And I’ve already won first place in the regular season of my baseball league. If I win this week, I’m in the finals.
Fantasy sports raise an interesting concept though. Historically, most people root for teams: Red Sox, Yankees, Mets, you name it. That kind of gets flipped on its head when I decide to pass on Mike Napoli because I don’t think there’s any way he’ll repeat what he did last season. And he hasn’t. Good for me, bad for my beloved Red Sox.
What it’s like being a redhead: I’m not a minority in the politically correct sense of the word and it’s not like I know what it’s like not to be a redhead. But it’s different. It has to be, right?
Redheads have an innate respect for one another based just on the fact that they share the same hair color. I don’t think that can be said about any other hair color — natural hair color, that is (although Larry David might argue bald people share a similar bond).
I like the beach, but I had to spend most of my honeymoon under a tree on the beach , otherwise I would have come home looking like a lobster. And at home, I generally won’t go to the beach for kicks unless it’s past 5 o’clock generally. Why fight nature?
My experience as a first-time homeowner: For the past 15 months, I’ve been in a constant battle with the house and yard my wife and I bought last May in Wading River. And it really has been a battle …
I’ve been attacked by a nest of yellow jackets, had half my body covered in poison ivy and sworn at myself — actually, it’s my tools — more times than I can count.
A yard that was neglected for at least the past 20 years still looks like nobody takes care of it — and it will look that way for some time to come, just because of the amount of work to be done. Retro bathroom tiles — we’re talking pink and sea green — make you think you’re stepping onto the set of “The Wonder Years.” And until last week, when we finally had a new retaining wall and steps put in, crumbling front stairs offered guests an agility test as they approached the front door.
And call me crazy, but I love it. Watching the progress we’ve made since we moved in has been very rewarding. I just hope the real estate market doesn’t crash again when we ever sell our home and I can make at least a little bit of cash off the investments we’ve been making.
Those people you see on the side of the road occasionally who draw a Hitler moustache on the president and think he should be impeached: Think President Obama should be impeached? No problem, think away. But you lost me at the comparison with Adolf Hitler. I hesitate to give them the space in this or any column, just because comparing the president with the man responsible for the Holocaust deserves a word that goes beyond “ignorant.”
I’ve considered talking to them and trying to find out what really goes on in minds like that. But then I think about it, and I’m not so sure I want to know.
So those are few of the outtakes, if you will. Maybe if the well runs dry one of these weeks you’ll see a full-sized version of one of them. But I’m talking, really dry. Like a redhead’s skin after a full day at the beach.
Joseph Pinciaro is the managing editor of the News-Review, and is curious what you think about his columns that didn’t make the full cut. Let him know at firstname.lastname@example.org