Saturday, November 24, 2007

For Taylor Twellman

Here's a little morsel that was too good for me to pass up. I quote the following from this MLSnet news article.

The New England Revolution came up empty again in pursuit of the MLS Cup. When it was over, a drained Taylor Twellman stood by his locker at RFK Stadium and acknowledged that he was empty of emotion.

"I'm not mad, I'm not sad, it's just nothing," Twellman said. "I've got nothing in me."

Four trips to the MLS Cup, four losses. It's the same fate that once belonged to the Buffalo Bills, a proud football team that lost four Super Bowls. Now, the Revolution have to brace for comparisons to those Bills.

"You guys can call me Jim Kelly for all you want," Twellman said.

Taylor, as fans of the Revolution, we too were empty following MLS Cup. Thanks for the permission to call you Jim Kelly, but I regret to inform you that I already have. Ask the fans outside of RFK after the match who were subjected to the yells of my brother and I. In order to cope, as I walked away with my heart in my throat, I loudly proclaimed the Revolution as the Bills of MLS, you as Jim Kelly, and Shalrie Joseph as Thurman Thomas. I immediately promised revenge in the Patriots-Bills matchup later that night. My brother than tried to start a 16-0 chant. Beating the Bills so badly never felt so good. I hope you and the rest of the Revs tuned in to see your stadium-mates dismantling your namesakes 56-10. You were on TV in the stands at Fenway during the playoffs, so I'm sure you must have taken the same joy from the Pats pounding the Bills that I did.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Welcome to The Midside

Hello one and all, friends and countrymen, random web surfer, family, or potential employer. Somehow, someway, you have found your way to my blog, The Midside. What is The Midside? Rest assured, that question will be answered among the many to come in this post. To begin though, I’m going to ask YOU a question:

Do you trust me?

You are remembering correctly. I’m posing the same question that Aladdin posed to princess Jasmine not once, but twice in the Greatest Disney Movie of All Time (according to Jayemel…Who is Jayemel? Read on.); the same pneumonic device that he unintentionally utilized to show her that she could indeed trust him because he was what he was (and not what others tried to get him to pretend to be). That device is exactly the reason I am putting forward the quandary right now. I’m trying to establish my ethos here. Can’t you cut a brother some slack?

To summarize this introduction to my introduction (huh?), please decide on your answer to my question. If you trust me, kind of trust me, or want to trust me, read on and I’ll tell you all you’ve ever wanted to know (except who actually shot JFK, I’m saving that kernel of information for the height of my popularity). If you don’t trust me, don’t want to trust me, or are apathetic towards me, you’re wasting your time even reading this paragraph, this sentence, this phrase, this word…get out of here already so I can stop addressing you and move on!

Alright, now that I’ve gotten rid of those knuckleheads, the rest of us can move forward on our first journey into The Midside: Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know (and A lot of Stuff You Never Did).

Who am I?

My name is Justin M. Lesniewski. I’m currently finishing my second year of graduate school at Clemson University in Clemson, SC. I am a member of the Professional Communication department under the broader umbrella of the English department. In about half a year, I’ll have my Master’s degree in the aforementioned subject. What is Professional Communication? The response to that question could be as long as a PhD dissertation, but the short version is whatever you’re thinking of right now. As long as the communication occurs in a professional context, then it is what I’m being educated to proliferate. Essentially, I’ve been introduced to the different theoretical and practical perspectives on the subject and taught how to distinguish which perspective is best to utilize when.

I completed my undergraduate work at Ithaca College in Upstate New York about 45 minutes south of Syracuse. The Bachelor’s degree I earned features a major in Writing and a minor in Philosophy. My coursework for my major featured many different types of writing instruction, but the concentration I chose was Creative. This choice mainly affected what my Senior Project would be. Thus, I wrote a 50 page five story collection titled “Town & Country” which can be found on my website under “Academic” Work.

Prior to my experiences in higher education, my life began and geographically centered on Worcester, Massachusetts, though it is important that I emphasize that I am also well traveled. Until I finished my fourth grade year, I attended Elementary School at H.P. Clough in the small town of Mendon, Massachusetts. I then transferred to the Bancroft School, a private K-12 school in Worcester, which I graduated from in 2001. When I was young, I traveled to a large majority of the 50 states and Canada with my parents, two brothers, and even, at times, my aunt. Although I think I know a lot about this country and our culture, I’ve never been to the North West and would like to go there at some point in the future. Without my family, I toured Europe for three weeks one summer when I was 12 years old with a student ambassador group called People to People. The specific countries were England, France, Germany, Belgium, and The Netherlands. As I was young, the experience was very important in my educational growth as an intellectual and person. I’d like to return to England one day and watch a Premier League game as well as visit the two countries that are a major part of my heritage, Italy and Poland.

My professional interests reside in the discipline in education. My first year at Clemson, I taught an English 103 lab. This year, I am an instructor for the main English 103 section. To state my experience in a cliché manner, I have “fallen in love” with teaching. Interacting with students and helping them grow is one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I feel it is very important to point out that I used the word “helping” in my previous statement, as it is very demonstrative of my educational philosophy. I believe in helping the individual become an independent critical thinker rather than simply inundating them with facts. This philosophy is especially important at the college level and in relevance to the way in which our culture and technology is developing. In the coming years, a person will be better equipped to survive if he can discern which information he needs to know and how he can use that information rather than simply being handed information relevant to the moment and how to use it in that moment. Thus, I would like to teach, but could see myself as an administrator on the high school or college level. Outside of education, I’d like to publish at least one book in my lifetime. Right now, I am working on a fiction novel that spawned from my undergraduate senior project.

My personal interests mainly focus on sports and television/movies. If you can still remember where I’m from through all this biographical mumbo jumbo, then you’ll already know I’m a fan of the Boston Bruins, Celtics, and Red Sox and the New England Patriots and Revolution. That list was actually alphabetical and not in order of importance as the two teams I follow the most are the two listed last. You can add the Clemson Tigers to that list now too. And yes, football and soccer are the two sports I follow the most. My Dad has had Patriots season tickets for over 30 years (when they were still awful), my family has had Revolution season tickets since the inaugural MLS season when I was 12 years old, and I’ve been to three of the four MLS Cups that the Revolution played in (and lost). I’ve also played soccer since the second grade and am always up for a good game. My interest in television revolves around my weekly schedule of shows: Monday- Journeyman; Tuesday- House; Wednesday- Pushing Daises, LOST, South Park; Thursday- Survivor, Scrubs. I also own box sets of many old or canceled shows such as Dead Like Me, Firefly, Highlander, Stargate SG-1, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Wonderfalls. As you’ve probably guessed, I have an affinity for science fiction, especially stories involving time travel or parallel universes. My favorite movies are 300, 8 Mile, The 40 Year Old Virgin, and The Village. I have a bit of an eclectic taste, but will watch almost anything as long as isn’t overly artsy or a “social awareness” picture. I tend to prefer smart movies that form a complete whole rather than a stringing together of entertaining or clever scenes. I also follow the general rule that if a movie receives Oscar buzz and/or nominations, it isn’t very good.

What is this blog going to be about?

It’s tough for me to answer this question and not be sarcastic House-style as I often am. To put it politely, I’m going to write about what ever thought is bustling in my brain at the moment. Those thoughts will mostly follow my interests outlined in the previous section of this entry: sports, pop culture, and education. They will more-often-than-not by twined to first hand personal experiences (is first hand personal experiences a redundant phrase?), stories I hear second hand, or stories I read about. A lot of my thoughts and ideas are observational in nature as I also have an interest in social interaction. Although, that interest is waning as I grow older as it just doesn’t seem as important what other people are doing anymore. Live your life, keep it to yourself, and leave me alone. Better yet, write a blog about it. If I want to know, I’ll read it and respond. Then we can become friends. You can either take that route or give me your phone number and see if I call (especially if you’re a good looking girl). If I call, I care. If I don’t, you can curl up in bed bawling with a carton of ice cream. I understand. No really, I do.

Outside of the above topics, an occasional political diatribe may slip out from time to time. I’m also gradually learning to keep my politics to myself as I grow older. Most people don’t know what they’re talking about and thus political discussions quickly turn into shouting matches or mudslinging. Since I want to enjoy life as much as possible, it’s not best for me to intentionally not head down that road. Although, it is important to mention that I do believe everything is political, so it will be literally impossible to remove my politics completely. In other words, if you’re smart enough, you’ll figure it out. There’s a nice little challenge that should keep you even more engaged. Don’t say I never did anything for you.

On one final note, I will repost my columns that appear on after every new episode of LOST on this blog as a sort of harbor for safekeeping.

Why should I read this blog?

The short and simple answer to this question is “because it entertains you”. I’m not guaranteeing that I’ll entertain you. I know my humor and writing isn’t for everyone. I hope it’s for enough people to make the effort I expended worthwhile though. I stress entertainment as the determining factor because I’m not going to pretend I’m smart or important enough to accomplish anything else with my writing. If you want brilliant theories on the nature of the universe, go raise Albert Einstein from the dead. If you want advice that will change your life, contact Dr. Phil; I’m sure he’s looking for show ideas.

If you still need more reasons to read my blog or don’t believe I’m entertaining, here’s a bulleted list in no particular reason:

-I’m well educated and have “presence”.

-I’ll never talk out of my ass unless I’m begin satirical and when I don’t know, I’ll admit it. Although, that case won’t happen often.

-I enjoy giving people nicknames and coming up with my own terms for things. For instance, one of my friends looks like the main character from Journeyman, so I call him Dan Vassar. Undergrad I would also nickname random people around campus. One girl was Hoodie Girl because she always wore hoodies and still looked good doing it. Another girl was Disaster because my friend told me he was flirting with her one day and I responded, “You’re flirting with disaster, man.” The friend she was always with quickly became known as Tragedy because what always accompanies disaster?

-I’m honest. I call it like I see it. The less honest I am with you, the less I respect you because I respect people more that can handle the truth. Basically, if I were Colonel Jessep, I would have no respect for Lieutenant Kaffee.

-I come up with random quirky ideas and theories. Recently, I’ve decided on the difference between a “douchebag” and an “asshole”. Both essentially do the same thing and I found myself using the terms interchangeably, so I thought about what differentiates them from each other. The conclusion I came to is that a douchebag doesn’t know any better while an asshole does. Why is it important to consider this idea? It changes the way you deal with people. If a douchebag does something you don’t like, you shouldn’t really get mad because he doesn’t know any better and thus he’s only a douchebag. If an asshole does something you don’t like, you can probably assume negative intent and respond however you feel is appropriate. I say negative intent because you don’t usually call someone an asshole for doing something you admire unless it’s in a snide-jealous sort of way.

-I try not to take life too seriously because I want to enjoy it as much as I can and try to be funny most of the time. I say try because I don’t always succeed or only succeed in one or two people’s estimation. Hey, you can’t please all the people all the time and, as Mitch Hedberg said, “…last night, all those people were at my show.”

-I don’t use any messengers (AIM, MSN, Yahoo, etc) because I grew cynical towards them during my undergrad years. The only reason I have a Facebook is because in my first semester of grad school I found myself missing social events that information about was distributed through the website.

-My love for pop culture means most of my writing will be littered with references that you’ll either “get” or, if you don’t, use to start another game.

-I have no deep dark secrets. I’m a normal nice guy whose parents raised him well. This fact about myself is the main reason I can’t stand concepts like Post Secret. They further the idea that everyone is fucked up thus making it socially acceptable to be a fuck up. I completely understand that people make mistakes and I’m definitely all about forgiving them, but if mistakes are to be forgiven, why is there a need to keep them hidden as deep dark secrets?

What is The Midside and who is Jayemel?

The answer to this question is in two parts:

1. The Midside is a concept I came up with for a “Personal Essay” class I took while in undergrad. If you’re not on the inside, but you’re not on the outside looking in, you’re on The Midside, a location where observation and truth reign supreme. Being “in” is a condition I’ve never really experienced or understood, but I never saw myself as being “out” or unliked either, so I came up with a new word to describe where I “live”. I think most other people live here too and just have a number of reasons they can’t/won’t admit it.

2. Jayemel is a phonetic spelling of my initials I created in homage to Eminem, who I feel is the greatest rapper of all time and one of the best poets of my generation. This alter-ego makes an appearance when I want to refer to myself in the third person or say other unnecessarily egoistical or attitude laced things. It also is the voice with which I write poetry, which tends to be rap based. If I had to describe Jayemel, I would call him overly self assured and in-your-face. Basically, if you know me and ever since me pushed to the brink of fighting someone, that guy is Jayemel.

Any final thoughts?

Final thoughts? Who do you think I am, Jerry Springer? Am I required to do some “Back of the Book” segment a la Bill O’Reilly? If I had to leave any new reader who happened to stumble across my writing with any words it would be the following:

I hope you stick around because the ride through The Midside should be quite a time. But if you don’t, you don’t. I wish you the best of luck in life and hope to see you back around these here parts one day. Oh, and if there’s one thing you take away from your stay here, however brief or long, let it be my catchphrase:

Shut up, you’re wrong.