Creative Inspiration

It’s Super Bowl Sunday, but you don’t want to read about the Super Bowl. Reading about the Super Bowl is boring, and frankly I’m not here to bore you. Let me rephrase that. I’m not here to intentionally bore you. I’m sure it happens accidentally quite often.

Because we’ve all agreed that reading about the Super Bowl sucks (I’m assuming you’re in agreement if you’re still reading), and because there’s really nothing else to talk about (there really isn’t), I wanted to take a minute to list out some of the writers who have influenced the meandering ramblings that you so often read on these pages. To those individuals I’m about to name, I’m sorry. Knowing that you have helped shape me in some form or fashion must be absolutely heartbreaking. My parents are available for counseling if you need to air your grievances or discuss coping mechanisms.

If you occasionally enjoy an article on this website, I highly urge you to check out these other writers. In all honesty, it is their work which has inspired mine. Without further ado, allow me to present the list of creative inspiration (in alphabetical order):

Jerry Brewer, The Seattle Times

I’m biased, of course. That will be a running theme throughout this list, but can you really blame me for playing favorites? It’s my list, after all.

Let me start by saying this about Jerry: when it comes to sports writing, he’s a different kind of dude. And you have to appreciate that.

(Some unrelated insider info on the guy: he’s got a smooth jumper and plays ball in an old pair of Adidas T-Mac. It’s gotta be the shoes, right?)

Jerry writes from the soul, which leads to articles like this one or this one. For your meathead sports fan, Jerry’s style might not be ideal. But for the rest of us who enjoy a dose of humanity from time to time, reading his material is a breath of fresh air.

Though I don’t do it all that often, it is Jerry’s style that has helped me put together articles like this one which stray from the everyday sports talk. Sometimes you just want to organize your thoughts into something meaningful, and through my friend’s unique style, I’ve learned how to do that.

And if you’ve never checked out his book, Gloria’s Miracle, I highly suggest you give it a read. It’s worth it.

Ryan Divish, The Tacoma News-Tribune

Divish (or Dickens, as I like to call him…and don’t be confused, that’s not a nod towards Charles Dickens) is the ultimate curmudgeon. He writes about the Mariners and the Seahawks and whatnot, but really what he’s discussing is his own personal angst.

Yes, through his angst I have channeled the fire that burns in many of my most cynical, snarky pieces. Divish has been a friend of mine and a friend of the site since the very early going of Seattle Sportsnet. In that time, he has helped me deliver some of my finest news coverage, while simultaneously providing me a template in his own writings.

Now don’t get me wrong, Divish’s angst is not as tragic as it seems. He’s transformed into a miniature version of The Hulk simply by the teenagers who hack the sh*t out of him when he drives the lane at the YMCA. But if this inspires him to be a better writer, and in turn inspires me to be a better writer, then let’s all be thankful for those dirty little cheating bastards.

Jim Moore, The Seattle P-I

This is absolute blasphemy to my fellow Husky fans, and I get that. Jim might be the most notorious Cougar fan in the Greater Seattle area. He’s ripped the purple-and-gold on more than a few occasions and has a real dickish (and I mean that in the nicest sense of the word) way of getting his point across sometimes.

But come on. How can you hate a guy who a) has a knack for riling up the enemy, b) is out-and-out funny, c) will say ANYTHING in print, and d) writes like the job doesn’t matter? That’s what I like about Jim. His writing is balls-to-the-wall, no holds barred, professional insanity. He is the Eminem of sports journalism. If you’re thinking it, he’s likely writing it.

In his spare time, Jim likes to post pictures of attractive women alongside compositions on his blog. Check it out. Definitely worth the read.

Danny O’Neil, The Seattle Times

Danny is a funny guy. The dude is always laughing. Or perhaps to put it more aptly, giggling. A laugh could be of any tenor. A giggle is clearly higher-pitched. So what we have here then — and I think anyone who has heard Danny’s laugh would concur — is very definitely a giggle.

You might not always get those giggles through newsprint, but let me tell you something, when I read Danny’s material, I usually end up laughing alongside the author, himself. It takes a talented individual to sneak in the subtleties of humor into professional pieces. And Danny achieves that.

Unlike some of the other writers farther down this list, Danny is not being paid to be a published comedian. And yet he still finds a way to capture a lighthearted tone in even the most standard announcements. I mean, let’s be honest, how much entertainment value is there in the Seahawks signing a couple guys to the practice squad? Very little, I’d wager. But Danny will find that entertainment value, then work it into a short blurb. Being able to create laughter where there was none is an amazing skill. I’ve always tasked myself with trying to do the very same.

Rick Reilly, Sports Illustrated

Wait a minute. Doesn’t Reilly work for ESPN these days?

You’re absolutely correct, astute observer. But let me tell you something. Ever since Reilly got hired at the Network a couple years ago, he’s turned into a real prick. His writing has suffered, his material has gotten lame-o, and his ability to make people laugh has waned with each passing article.

All that said, when he was compiling Life of Reilly for SI, he was one of the most revered sports writers in America. I grew up reading his material on a weekly basis, and I flat-out loved it. His ability to infuse humor into the stories he told captivated me, made me want to write. He was arguably one of the first writers that inspired me, and for that I thank him.

For some of his best work, read the original Life of Reilly books that were published when he was still with SI.

Bill Simmons, ESPN

Simmons is the Dave Chappelle of sports journalism. Kids love him, adults love him, college-aged individuals REALLY love him. For the past five years or so, Simmons has been everywhere, it seems. In that time, much of his work has prompted what I do on the website.

Perhaps Simmons’ greatest contributions to my writing are all the pop culture references. If I have a barrel full of pop culture references, then Simmons totes around a silo’s worth. The dude seemingly knows everything there is to know about nothing in particular. I’m convinced that he could monologue the entire VH1 I Love the ’80s series and have it be hilarious. He’s that good.

Of course a lot of you already know about Simmons, but if you’re unaware you should check him out. The dude has to be pulling down a seven-figure salary at this point, I’d imagine, so he’s not desperately in need of your support or anything. He’ll definitely make you laugh from time to time, though. And laughter certainly never hurt anybody.

Bailey Stenson, Breakin It Down With Bailey

Again, I’m biased. Bailey and I are friends. But even before we were friends, I enjoyed her writing. It’s entirely unique. The style, the flow, the composition. It’s the epitome of conversational prose.

You’ll never read Bailey’s material and confuse it for that of someone else. Her personality is evident in the words. It’s a skill that any writer would love to possess. I’d imagine that there are hundreds of people out there making money off writing that would agree. In reporting, you strive for omniscience. In writing, you search for a voice. Her writing is 100-percent voice.

On top of all that, almost everything she writes is happy. Just from the standpoint of taking a break from all the negativity in the world, it’s nice to read about her approach to life. It’s the happiness in the words that I haven’t found anywhere else. You can’t discount happiness. Sunshine through storm clouds. We need more of that.

Larry Stone, The Seattle Times

There are few people I’ve ever felt in my element with when discussing baseball, but Larry goes above and beyond anything I could ever know about the game. When you grow up as a baseball nerd, like I did, it can be tough to relate to the average fan. No, stupid, you can still make trades in August…fine, let me explain it again. It’s kinda like that.

The amount of knowledge that Larry has on baseball has always impressed me. I’ve tried to infuse a fraction of that knowledge into my own writings on occasion. When I’m searching for facts and thinking of ways to present them, I’ll read one of Larry’s columns as a guide.

In addition to being one of the longest-tenured sports journalists in this town, Larry is a pretty funny guy. The humor comes through in the material often enough to provide that insight, but just listening to him give his keen observations about baseball (or anything else, for that matter) is entertaining. If you haven’t guessed by now, a big source of my creative inspiration is humor and entertainment. And for that, Larry gets a gold star.

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