The agony of defeat

So much for applying to ESPN for a job. According to TVNewser on, “ESPN is Laying Off 100 Staffers, Primarily On-Air Talent.”

Image result for no espnThen again, I wasn’t looking for an on-air deal. Nevertheless, I can’t say I’m really surprised. Compare ESPN — which falls under the ABC umbrella, hence the reference to half of the slogan of the old weekly favorite Wide World of Sports — with the single-sport MLB Network. Aide from airing games, the latter saves a lot of money by using the same material over and over, whether it’s replaying their wrap-up shows or documentaries of feature films. I’ve been trying for years to get them interested in a half-hour weekly program about baseball and pop culture. Can’t imagine it would cost that much, but they seem content to just keep doing the same-old same-old.

According to the article, “These layoffs come as parent company Disney is getting ready to unveil an ESPN subscription streaming service. ” I don’t get that. If they’re losing an audience, do they really think they can save their bacon by charging for what people aren’t using for free? What’s the subscription fee gonna be, $1 million?

I’m not their demographic. The only show I watch regularly is Pardon the Interruption, with co-hosts 68-year-old Tony Kornheiser and 58-year-old Michael Wilbon, a couple of grumpy old men. I’ve been a fan of Kornheiser since his days as a columnist at the Washington Post, going back some 30-plus years; when he’s not on, I kind of lose interest.  I hope they don’t get cut in the layoffs.


Golden hour

Image result for golden hour

“Golden Hour” is a term used in film and photography to define that short amount of time when natural lighting is just perfect for what the director/photographer is looking for to set a mood. It’s usually at dusk and you will definitely know it when you see it.

For me, however, Golden Hour occurs every day, shortly after nine o’clock in the morning. Because that’s usually the time I get good news, relatively speaking, on the email account I use strictly for professional purposes. If you don’t use one, I strongly advise it to keep the tons of junk mail and spam away from the important stuff, so just give that address out to special and trusted sources.

I’m usually on the computer earlier than that to post the doings from the previous day in Jewish sports. But come 9:15 or so, I keep my fingers crossed that there will be some news about a job or something from my publisher regarding an interview or review of my new book — Hank Greenberg in 1938: Hatred and Home Runs in the Shadow of War — which just launched yesterday.

But each day just seems to bring more disappointment as Golden Hour passes and I hear no “dings” to alert me that “you’ve got mail.”

jacketIn the meantime, I’m preparing for an interview tomorrow. The good news is that I’m very familiar with the location it will be held, just down the road a couple of miles from my last job. The bad news is, I don’t know what I’ll do if I don’t get it, even though (or perhaps because) it’s unlike anything I’ve done in the past. Things are getting fairly desperate. Yesterday I submitted an audition audio for a voiceover service and was rejected because my equipment was not professional grade. I wonder if I could rent studio space… Too bad; I have been told by several people that I have a good voice for that type of thing (“In a world…”).

The interview is in mid-afternoon, so there’s still time earlier in the day for that amazing job offer to come through. Here’s keeping my fingers crossed for that Golden Hour.

What the well-dressed interviewee will wear

Maybe that should be in the form of a question: What will the well-dressed interviewee wear?

After all this time, I have my first real job interview in… well, ever. As I may have mentioned in previous posts, I’ve basically worked for two companies since I got out of college and neither really required a formal interview. The first was an extension of an assignment from a temp agency and the second was a freelance gig transformed into a full-time staff job.

In olden times, men were required to wear suits and ties to interviews, almost regardless of the position. But I look at TV and, outside lawyer shows and work-place comedies, nobody dresses up anymore. It’s all T-shirts, man-buns, pork pie hats, untucked shirts, and tattoos.

Image result for stereotype millennial male

This is actually my second interview for this company, one of the largest in the country and certainly one I never would have considered a few years ago (desperate times, bro). The first was a 40-minute phone conversation. Now I guess they want to see if I’m presentable. Although I would get a bit suspicious, given the initial good impression I made (otherwise why another interview?) and being the paranoid I am, if they suddenly decided I wasn’t “the right stuff.” You guys talked with me before, you know my deal. So you changed your minds? Based on…? (Like I said, paranoid.)

But back to the problem of attire. I highly doubt I will be wearing a suit (or a tie) for this position, but do I go the formal route anyway? I’m thinking a bit less so: sport coat, shirt/tie, and khakis. I brought the jacket to the dry cleaners; sticker shock. I don’t know if I paid that much for it in the first place (shows you how old it is).

Maybe this is the way to go. At least they’d remember me.

Image result for white tie and tails, astaire

Success… and failure

Been trying to content myself these past few weeks with the fact that my new book — Hank Greenberg in 1938: Hatred and Home Runs in the Shadow of War — is scheduled for release next week. It’s been wonderfully distracting to consider forthcoming interviews and reviews and keeps me from getting too depressed about, you know, an actual job.

The novelty is quickly wearing off. I go back and forth, feeling somewhat good about the accomplishment but at the same time realizing how ephemeral it all is. The window of opportunity for the average author is very brief if s/he is lucky, there’s a little buzz and attention, but that quickly passes. I’m not manic about it, but when I have the need to include the Amazon link in a blog entry or email, I sneak a peek at the rankings. That it came in under 40,000 I consider a success and believe it will improve … albeit briefly… when it officially drops on April 25.

Image result for better call saul, cinnabon

The rest of the time, I’m plugging away, looking for employment. That‘s been discouraging. As I’ve said here before (ad nauseum?), there doesn’t seem to be a great demand for the kind of writing I have been doing over the last decade-plus, both in terms of quality and compensation. It’s kind of made me question my choice of career, although to be very honest, it never was a choice as much as something that dropped into my lap after my last lengthy period of “leisure.” How could I say no when the NJ Jewish News offered to take a chance on me even though I had no formal education or training in journalism? And although I am proud (a word I normally hate to apply to myself) of getting to the point where I won a couple of awards, it obviously wasn’t good enough to a) keep me from losing that job when the publication was taken over, and b) impress others to snatch me up when I became available.

Image result for lil abner, cloudSo I’ve had to start thinking outside the box simply because the severance ran out and unemployment insurance is very soon to follow. Thank goodness the mortgage is paid off, but I’ve still got to be bringing in something, if only for my own sense of self-worth. I’ve applied for positions I never thought I would, which could very well put me in a situation where I could be working for someone half my age who would mess with me just because s/he could (think Randy and  Hurley/John Locke on Lost). On the one hand, it’s honest work but on the other, I can;’t help feeling it’s a significant failure/character flaw on my part that I can’t find something more “appropriate.”

Today I had a preliminary phone interview for one of those possibilities. A highly rated company as far as work environments go. Took about 30 minutes and answered the kind of questions that seemed like no-brainers when it came to giving them what I thought they wanted to hear. They seemed to lead me in certain directions when it came to issues of flexibility regarding hours and minimum salary, but I know they have a script/flow chart to follow, so NBD.

Now I wait for someone to determine if I’m company-worthy. Jolly. In the meantime, I’ll keep looking. Maybe something will turn up at zero-hour. With my luck, I’ll actually find a great situation… and North Korean will drop a nuke over my house.

Image result for mushroom cloud

Isn’t everything temporary?

It’s getting to the point where I need to do something. If not for the sake of bringing in some money, then for sanity’s sake. So maybe I’ve come full circle, examing the possibility of finding work via a temp agency.

I started working as a temp when I got out of college. After a couple of mindless assignments, I wound up in the public relations department of a non-profit “human defense” agency. A couple of months later, the long-time department secretary/den mother asked if I would be interested in coming aboard full-time. I had nothing better to do so I agreed, with the caveat that if something better came along I might not be able to give too much notice.

Image result for temporary workers

Twenty-two years later…

I was eventually downsized when a new administration came on board and decided my  position was “redundant.” I won’t get into the whole loyalty thing, or that I passed on other opportunities to stay there because I thought it was important work. They gave me a nice severance package but it was still rough sledding for awhile. One of the most difficult things was dealing with my daughter who was in grade school at the time and couldn’t understand why all her friends’ daddies had jobs while hers was home all the time.

I was doing some freelance writing for the newspaper when they asked me to come in to discus additional assignments. By the time the meeting was over, I had a full-time job as a staff writer. A couple of years later, I was promoted to the position of arts and features editor which I expanded to include sports.

Fourteen years later…

A new regime took over the paper… see above.

So it’s a whole new world out there, and I guess I wasn’t paying enough attention to how things have changed while I was working. It never occurred to me that I should keep up with developing trends, especially since they weren’t germane to my present situation. Now, so many of the jobs I see require an entirely new approach to writing. know I could adapt if given the chance; I have always enjoyed learning new things and am very detail oriented. But at my age people aren’t that eager to provide any degree of training; they expect you to hit the ground running. You know how kids are becoming more tech savvy are earlier ages because they’re being brought up with smart phone, tablets, etc.? Pretty soon they will probably be literally born with that kind of knowledge (hit the ground crawling?).

Companies also don’t seem to be willing to pay what I want, which isn’t even all that much, relatively speaking. I heard on the new this morning that kids graduating college are disappointed in their starting salaries; that they had greater expectations. This report further claimed that starting salaries have actually been in decline over the last few years.

Welcome to my world, kiddies.


Not my night

To quote Brando here.

Checked my email last night to learn that I had been turned down for two job possibilities, either of which I really would have enjoyed.

The first was with, working as an editor for their “Cut 4” section, compiling and writing about interesting, humorous, or otherwise compelling video clips and the stories behind them.

The second was for a spot at Trader Joes. I know, what you’re thinking. “Boy, those are some pretty diverse opportunities, buddy.” True, but next to baseball, I’ve always been interested in the food industry and what makes things go or stall.

I don’t know what it says about me when I can’t even get hired at a supermarket. (Does that sound horrible? I don’t mean it to be. Just getting increasingly frustrated.) Heck, I can’t even get an interview. So I guess I could take some solace in that it’s not personal.

Now I’m thinking ABBA…

You can stop listening after 50 seconds or so; that’s the germane part.

Here’s looking at you, kid.

What are YOU worried about, Jonathan Mathis?

Mathis is a Facebook friend, and up until recently, at least, was “Sportswriter/columnist, Youtube personality, on-air personality at I95 Sports & Entertainment Network.”

I’m announcing that I’m choosing a new career path. Journalism obviously isn’t for me. 1. I have too many enemies. 2. I don’t have the time that I once had. 3. I’ve burnt bridges and will never bounce back from a tattered reputation. 4. I’m tired of people’s negativity and very little support. However, I’m still gonna pursue my bachelor’s degree in communication and whatever God wants me to become I will become it. But I’m done with this journalism stuff. I’m thinking about deactivating this account, because I’m tired of people and the attacks, and the negativity, and the fact that people turn conversations into personal attacks and cannot ever keep it civil. I don’t need social media to have friends. I had my true friends long before this. I have my true friends now. People who met me via sports writing once again DO NOT KNOW ME. THEY KNOW OF ME, BUT THEY DO NOT KNOW ME, BECAUSE THEY NEVER MET ME, yet I’m treated like a criminal, crucified for having an opinion, vilified for comments, attacked for my views. I swear, this is high school drama. I know what they mean when they say everybody doesn’t like you and that everybody isn’t your friend. I think I’m loved by enough people, from family to friends to neighbors to high school friends to co-workers. They are the important people to me, not haters or people who are supposed to be fans and supporters. I try to live my life right, treat people with respect and love everyone, but of course, everybody doesn’t feel that way.