Saturday, January 28, 2006 

Coming soon: THE NETWORK

In the final stages of preparing a pitch package for THE NETWORK, my comic series about a channel devoted entirely to the cape-and-mask crew--think ESPN for superheroes. This one ain't going to bring a single new reader into comics, but it's going to be a lot of fun. Here's a pencil mockup of the cover by my man Martin Morazzo:

Friday, January 20, 2006 

Break Me Off Some Thin Mints, Yo

If anybody out there wants Girl Scout cookies, drop me a line and I'll hook ya up. Regular price is $3.50 a box; I'll sell 'em to you for 14 quarters--plus shipping. I ain't paying the freight to supply your cookie habit.

And that's what it is--next to crack, there ain't nothin' better than frozen Thin Mints. And Samoas give you a hell of a contact high when you rub them on your gums.

 

Sports Talk Radio...Behind The Mike

Spent this morning hanging out in the studio for the "Mayhem in the A.M." show at 790 The Zone, Atlanta's top sports radio station, for a big article in Atlanta magazine. I'm a bit of a radio junkie, so it was a kick to see the behind-the-scenes action, which is both more and less complex than you'd think. I think I've got a great job--hell, these cats get to hang out and talk sports and life for four hours a day. I would've loved to get on-mike, but the repartee of the hosts is so polished that there was really no room--it would've been like somebody bringing along a strange new friend to hang out with you and your mates at a bar, a little awkward and forced. But it was a bit of a rush to be heading down 400 at 6:15 in the morning, hearing them say, "We've got this writer from Atlanta magazine coming in..."

Anyway, a good morning. But how those guys greet the dawn every day amazes me. I had to go to bed about 10 last night--which for me is the equivalent of most people's 7--and at 5 this morning had the old "Jesus, did I even sleep yet...?" feeling until I looked at the clock--and realized it didn't matter if I had. Off to nap now.

Sunday, January 15, 2006 

New Project Preview: RIPPED

Here's a page-in-progress from one of my latest projects, a time travel/mystery book called RIPPED. (Art by Jason Flowers.) Premise is that the lead character wakes up every so often to find himself smack-dab in the middle of events of historical significance...and has to decide how (or whether) to intervene. As for where our hero starts out RIPPED's adventures, well...imagine this:

It's 12:30 in the afternoon of a 1963 November day. You're in Dealey Plaza. And there's a motorcade coming around the bend.

So...what do you do?

 

The Tribe And The Tigers

I love me some college hoops, but I'm getting pulled apart like a wishbone by my two favorite teams. On one hand, you've got my undergrad team, the College of William & Mary, which has--to put it delicately--difficulties with the game of basketball. The Tribe traveled south toAtlanta yesterday to play Georgia State, and I visited the high-school-esque confines of Georgia State Sports Arena, along with a mere 784 of my closest friends, to watch W&M. They put together one of the finer halves in college basketball this season, scoring 50 points and drilling nearly a dozen treys. Unfortunately, it came after one of the more miserable halves I've ever seen a team produce--the Tribe put up a mere 20 points, and looked like they were playing in what my brother and I used to call "The Left-Handed Olympics" (doing a variety of standard activities like throwing a football or shooting a basket with your off hand). Good news was, they shaved 13 points off Georgia State's lead at various times; bad news was, the Panthers were up 19 much of the time. The Tribe fell, 79-70.

On the other hand, you've got the University of Memphis, my grad school. When I was in school, the team was, like Charlie Brown, cursed with permanent potential. Those teams had four members of their starting lineup go pro (Lorenzen Wright, David Vaughn, Chris Garner, Cedric Henderson) and another play for the Globetrotters (the pogo-stick-legged Michael Wilson, who could literally dunk on a 12-foot rim). But those teams always flamed out early, never getting farther than the first round of the NCAAs. Now, though, it's a new era in the Bluff City--Memphis is ranked #5 in the nation and looking well-positioned to make a hell of a run in March.

Now, I'd love to see W&M have at least a hint of this kind of success. Of course, if this is what it takes, I'll pass. The link will take you to a story that indicates Memphis has a paltry 25 percent graduation rate of its basketball players--the NCAA's average is 58 percent, and W&M averages 87 percent across all its sports. Memphis's attempts to spin this sound even worse--when current coach John Calipari took over, the team had a zero percent graduation rate. ZERO. I love the principle of college sports, but--much like French food, John Updike novels, and the recent Star Wars trilogy--it sounds much better in theory than actual practice.

Friday, January 13, 2006 

Sports Journalism in Black and White

My editor at the Chicago Sports Review pointed out these two articles below, both focusing on the new movie "Glory Road." The movie is the story of the 1966 Texas Western basketball team, an all-black team that beat the mighty (and all-white) Kentucky Wildcats. Significant? Sure. Groundbreaking? That's where opinions differ. Here, we've got Ron Rapaport of the Chicago Sun-Times and Scoop Jackson of ESPN.com taking two very different views of the same game. And while I like Scoop very much--I interviewed him once, and he was one of the best interviews I've ever had--I think his reach exceeds his grasp on this one. Scoop gets a lot of grief for filtering everything he sees through a racial lens, and while that's an unfair assessment, columns like this one unfortunately only bolster his critics' arguments. Anyway, decide for yourself:

Ron Rapaport: http://www.suntimes.com/output/rapoport/cst-spt-rap12.html

Scoop Jackson: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=jackson/gloryroad/060112

Thursday, January 12, 2006 

Shocking You From Orbit

I love talk radio. Not the blathering idiots like Hannity, Limbaugh, and Boortz; the only thing scarier than their lack of awareness is the idea that many listeners actually use those clowns as their only source of news. No, I’m all about the shock jocks—Howard Stern et. al.—and Stern’s return to the airwaves gives me a chance to compare the three largest syndicated satellite radio shows. I get Opie & Anthony shows via subscription on Audible.com, and as for Howard Stern and Bubba the Love Sponge, I got their first shows from ...3ji9...03tfe(huhi&(&H …sorry, went through a bad cell there. Where were we?

Anyway, back in the early ‘90s, I was a Stern freak. I worked in a townhouse in Alexandria, Virginia and had my own little office, meaning that I could listen to whatever I damn well pleased and didn’t have to worry about co-workers getting offended by the Butt Bongo Fiesta or whatever. When I left Alexandria, I left behind Stern, who wasn’t then broadcast nationwide; aside from a year or so that he was on while I lived in Memphis, I haven’t heard him regularly since 1993 or so.

And when I listened to Monday’s debut broadcast, it was like no time at all had passed…and that’s not a good thing. Stern was using the same sound effects, the same farts-and-strippers shtick, as he did back during the Reagan administration. It was fun to listen to, in the same way that it’s fun to listen to Winger or Slaughter or one of those other fourth-rate hair bands that I liked for ten minutes back in the late ‘80s. Unfortunately, in the intervening years, Stern has preserved all the wrong elements of his show—Robin Quivers adds nothing but snide commentary and a racial dropcloth, and Stern still doesn’t get that strippers are dull as hell to listen to on the radio. The best elements—Jackie the Jokeman’s one-liners and Billy West’s voices—are long gone, and Stern apparently has to filter every single topical story through himself. He’s no longer in touch with the majority of his listeners; he’s dining at Nobu and waking up to a magazine cover girl. And he’s trying so hard to be shocking…which is really pretty pathetic. If he settles down and makes the show comment on the world, rather than the reverse, he could have something good again…but if not, Sirius is in a lot of trouble.

My vote for best satellite radio shock jocks goes to Opie and Anthony, the New York-based duo who got fired a few years back for orchestrating a stunt where a couple had sex in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. Ooooops. Anyway, if you’re not familiar with O&A, they’re damn funny—and they aren’t obsessed with telling the world how astonishingly revolutionary they are, a la Stern. (Check out some of their clips at http://www.oavirus.com/ .) Yeah, they have their downsides—I imagine if I were anything but a straight white guy, I’d be offended by them nearly every day, and their sidekick Jim Norton has a too-limited repertoire of gay/ retarded/pedophiliac jokes. But they’re intelligent enough to offer substantive commentary on the news; they rotate out their in-jokes and wacky characters on a mandatory, regular basis; and they still pull off a pretty convincing average-dude routine, commenting on chicks, sports, and work—while still throwing out the occasional holy-crap-I-can’t-believe-they-did-that moment.

There’s also Bubba the Love Sponge, based out of Tampa but now broadcast nationwide on Stern’s Sirius Network. He splits the difference between Stern and O&A; he’s got an ego nearly as large as his gut, but he gets humility forced onto him—a guy named “Bubba the Love Sponge” isn’t going to get invited to the best parties. He’s got a good redneck tinge to him—the callers that reach him often sound like they’re phoning in from swamps—and what he knows (wrestling, football, hatred of the FCC) he knows well. But he flounders whenever he’s trying to comment on anything outside his area of expertise—he got skewered by Bob Costas on HBO a year or so back when he was trying to defend a routine slaughtering a pig live on air. And he’s got a whiff of geek-vengeance to him when he talks about hanging with football players and porn stars. But his sidekick Manson (who does the voice of angry redneck Vietnam Vet Ned Schnittt—and yes, there are three T’s) is, hands down, the sharpest and wittiest wingman on radio, and worth listening to all on his own.

Bottom line? Opie & Anthony has the best show, but Sirius is doing a much better job of putting together a total entertainment package. This’ll all change in three years or less, probably when XM and Sirius finally merge, but for now we’re out of the post-Janet Jackson wasteland and free to enjoy some good adults-only talk radio. And there ain’t no downside to that.

Thursday, January 05, 2006 

HYPE: Atlanta Magazine. Buy It.

A little pimping here--Atlanta magazine's got a little slice-of-life piece here by me on the joys of owning an SUV. (Not included in the article: the ecstasy of running up on a sidewalk and pinning a pedestrian to a wall...wait a minute. I've been playing too much Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.)

Anyway, the folks at Atlanta were good enough to even put my name on the cover, so check it out. (Click on the magazine cover for a direct link to Atlanta's website.) You out-of-towners--and in-town freeloaders--will have to wait a few weeks, till this one is off the stands, before I post the article here.

Bio

Jay Busbee runs Yahoo! Sports' NASCAR Blog From The Marbles, Atlanta Magazine's Atlanta sports blog Right Down Peachtree, and the Southern sports/humor blog Sports Gone South. He also writes for damn near anybody who'll throw him a buck and a byline, and he's at work on the books The Quiet Dynasty: The History Of The Atlanta Braves' Championship Run (2009, Sports Publishing LLC) and God Is A Bulldog: Georgia, Florida, And The Greatest Play In College Football History (2010, Sports Publishing LLC). Click below for more info on his novels, articles, and comics.
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