Where’s the Rest of the Story?

The “news”.  Really?  The stories the corporate media comes up with is redundant, monotonous, and insulting.  Now, I am not a journalist nor do I pretend to be one (like those on CNN, MSNBC, FOX, etc.).  These “journalists” only play one on TV and do very little work.  The term “reporter” is apropos to the job they really do: regurgitate a list of story lines and ask Little League t-ball questions that have been scrutinized and vetted by the interviewee’s publicist/lawyer/agent.  I think most people agree that what we see on major networks is emulsified news with little to no substance.  Heck, they run the same five stories for a week, which overlap with the next “top five” for the following.  

Breaking news, especially on tragedy, is generally wrong and fear-mongering, then replayed ad nauseam.  These reporters provide details at the scene and ask people how they feel (a ridiculous question!).  Rarely, if ever, do these media outlets ever investigate why things happen.  For example, the weather is always a big topic of discussion, yet hardly ever are the words “climate change” or “global warming” mentioned.  Little is said of the fact that the warming phenomenon has been responsible for some of the most expensive catastrophes in recent years and continues to cost us more and more money each year as more and more weather-related phenomena wreak havoc and destruction.  To make it worse, they give equal time to deniers as if they’re position is at all credible at this stage of the game.

Another example is gun violence.  Caveat: I am not an NRA member, but I do own a firearm.  I do not support lax gun laws, but I support laws that work. The media fixation on gun laws completely negates the culture surrounding gun violence.  It will continuously report on the mass shooter, giving enormous amounts of information about the murderer and his motives, and thereby giving notoriety and infamy to this sick individual.  How can this not encourage other deranged individuals to commit crimes, especially when they are disgruntled and feel like they have no voice?  We learn all about this Santa Barbara shooter, his problems, links to his videos, and give this mentally-ill individual all the attention he was seeking.  I refuse to provide the name of this murderer for that very reason.  Yet the victims are merely listed with hardly any information about them other than what the families provided in their thirty-second clip, if they’re even given that much.  Do we really need to know the intimate details of these murderers?  How are we benefited by this information other than that it prods our sick curiosity to know why murderers do what murderers do?

The news media feeds this behavior.  They fan the flames for those seeking notoriety.  They are not alone, however.  How often are song lyrics glorifying the “glock,” “street justice,” or “busting a cap” (an antiquated phrase, I’m sure)?  How often are shootings glorified whether in music, movies, or television? Vendettas, vengeance, vigilante: glorified.  Rappers and rockers (or their entourage) packing are hip and on the edge. 

I do not want to give the impression that guns should be ubiquitous, but there are enough laws in place.  The only thing that could stem the tide is upping the sentence for those prosecuted in committing a crime with a firearm; an automatic 25+ year sentence for offenders.  Furthermore, decriminalizing certain drugs could also alleviate so much of the violence as well as the number of incarcerated (but that is an entirely different blog post).  

I can’t imagine being the parent of a child who has been senselessly killed by a firearm, so my view would likely change as a result.  I certainly don’t fault those who have been affected by gun violence wanting stricter laws.  I would love to see stricter laws, but only laws that would work and not ones that merely placate.  When Sandy Hook happened, I wanted stricter law: an assault rifle ban, loopholes closed, etc.  But as I separated myself from the sorrow of what happened and really looked at what was being proposed, I saw it as merely a political game to pacify the mournful voices.  Not to mention that the libertarian in me fears allowing only the state/government to have the weapons.  In a perfect world, guns would be non-existent, but the feasibility of that statement is obvious.  There are no easy solutions to this problem.  Whatever is done, a large number of people will be deeply disappointed.  

Nontraditional News Outlets:

Dan Carlin’s fantastic podcast Common Sense: http://www.dancarlin.com/disp.php/csarchive



Newspapers/Magazines Worth Looking At:





Global Warming:



Gun Control:




Oh Really, What’s It About?

Last summer, I didn’t teach a summer school class and decided to dedicate my time to writing that novel “I always knew I had in me.”  Of course as I clicked-clacked away on the laptop keyboard, grandiose thoughts of fame and fortune (à la Ralphie’s Red Rider BB gun daydreams from a Christmas Story) would butt in and show me how wonderful this novel was, and agents and editors would fawn over it, and how I would sell the movie and TV rights, and how groundbreaking the series would be, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.  Yeah, well I haven’t finished it (but I’m close).  The question, however, that I most often get is “what’s it about?”  Well, I’m glad you asked because this will give me a great opportunity to write a synopsis of this fine piece of frivolous fiction.

One Sentence Version:

Manny is a thirteen-year-old orphan working in a Great Depression era carnival and sideshow, but he discovers that what he finds normal and everyday is quite frightening (in a fun sort of way) and morally wrong to the rest of the world.

One Paragraph Version:

In the 1930’s, carnivals displayed human “oddities.”  To many these oddities were fantastically grotesque and to others they were an abomination.  But to thirteen-year-old Manny Dobra, it was home.  After his carny parents were tragically killed, the carnival workers banded together to care for one of their own. A bearded woman, an alligator man, a family of little people entertainers, and many other “normal” and “oddity” individuals who make up Oliver Neil’s Marvelous Carnival become Manny’s parents, brothers, and sisters.  Soon, however, Manny begins to realize that the people he has grown to love aren’t loved by all, and are often met with mockery, disgust and scorn wherever they travel.  Now, forces both within and without the carnival threaten to tear apart his adoptive family.  Can Manny and his friends keep the carnival together?  Or will it all come crashing down around him, leaving him alone once again?

Multi-Paragraph Version:

In the 1930’s, carnivals displayed human “oddities.”  To many these oddities were fantastically grotesque but to others they were an abomination.  To thirteen-year-old Manny Dobra, it was home.

When Manny’s carny parents were killed, the carnival workers of Oliver Neil’s Marvelous Carnival banded together to care for one of their own.  A bearded woman, an alligator man, a family of little people entertainers, and many others become Manny’s parents, brothers, and sisters.

Now, Oliver Neil has fallen head over heels for beautiful Constancia.  He has invited her and her fourteen-year-old son to join the carnival, but Ron doesn’t seem pleased living with a bunch of freaks and felons.  He has no room for friends like Manny and lets it be known.

While turmoil from the new additions bubbling in the carnival, an old foe has resurfaced with a ferocity not seen in years–The Order of the Lions Den:  group bent on wiping out dens of iniquity from American soil, and carnivals are on top of their list.  Manny must now discover how to face these ever present challenges and find his place in a carnival of misfits.

And there you have it.  The working title is Sideshow Summer, but I’m not sure if it is, 1). catchy enough, or 2). captures the essence of the story.  I am open to suggestions for a new title as long as they’re the type of suggestions I want. 😉  Hopefully, it will all be done this summer.  I still need to go through and give it a good revision or two or three, but soon I can say/yell/scream, “I wrote my first novel!”

Thanks for reading,


P.S.  Want to check out some cool sideshow/carnival links?  Well then check these out:



Sideshow World


Sideshow! Carnival Oddities and Illusions Provide Lessons for Skeptics


Carny Lingo


Here We Go…

A strange feeling comes upon one who is about to enter the blogging world and being willing to share personal information to strangers and friends alike.  There is a sense of self-importance that I will be “out there” with so many other great bloggers, yet a pessimism settles in when realizing that it will be luck, time, and creativity that will make this blog into something that people will want to read.  Nevertheless, I’m wading out into the savannah grass like our pro to-human relatives to see what lay within this vast veldt.

I’ve come to realize that, as I sit here typing, this first post is quite difficult.  This could potentially set the tone of the blog and I want to make a good impression.  What does my little monkey brain need to do now that it has taken the first steps into this personal hinterland?  How does one capture attention?  How can I make this engaging?  How will it be beneficial?  Why do I even want to do this? And, can I honestly make a difference?  Or will saber-toothed apathy and red-clawed frustration hunt down poor little australopithecine me into extinction?  Maybe he will evolve into a viral omnivore bent on world domination.

So, what is the purpose of this blog?  Thanks for asking.  First of all, I am a teacher.  Have been for 16 years (holy crap!). I may have some experience, and I work with middle schoolers, which I actually enjoy (your turn: holy crap!).  I taught English for 13 years and am currently teaching American History to 8th graders (holy…yeah you get it).  I am also an adjunct college instructor working with beginning writers who have been either out of school for a number of years or just need a little extra help to improve their writing.  As a result, I would like to use this blog to relay some lesson plans that have worked, problems I have faced, and provide resources that may be helpful.  The proverbial tools in the caveman’s belt.

Secondly, I am in the process of writing a novel.  I started it last summer (2013) and nearly finished it.  Then the boa constrictor that is school (i.e. work) squeezed away all my time ( I also have a family who say they like me, so I reciprocate.)  As a result, I’ve done very little writing from August ’13 to May ’14.  To use middle school vernacular, it sucks!  To use a Neil Shubin-ism, the monkey inside me is screaming be let out of his cage and explore.  Therefore, perhaps this blog can not only give me an opportunity to stretch and exercise my atrophied writing muscles, but also allow me to share what I have written and what I have I learned. I am coming to find out that there is a lot to this writing thing if I want to make any sort of money off it, not to mention the struggles in just trying to get a word on a page.

Finally, I am a learning individual and have come across both exciting and shocking information as I go about my learning duties like a bee flits from one brightly colored flower to another.   Some of those flowers have the sweet nectar that I expect, while others have a praying mantis that scares the hell out of me.  Some information may not be fun, but it can be enlightening.

So, there you have it.  NMTony’s first blog post.  Now that I’ve bloviated and excreted my verbal diarrhea all over, I make an end of my words with that pleasant image.

Thanks for reading,


P.S.  Want to know who Neil Shubin is, check out the following because he is a really cool guy: