Busy like an editor/ taking yourself too seriously

This is the time of year when my ulcer roils and tosses in my stomach like a doomed ship on the high seas. Maybe ulcers are capable of tossing and roiling, maybe they aren’t. But that’s the way it feels, so I stand by the description.

Surprisingly, my stress level has nothing whatsoever to do with my efforts as an independent author, which is a little silly because I’m currently putting together a book trailer for Scourge of the Righteous Haddock (Book One), editing Vestal (Book Two), and plotting out the details of Book Three which remains unnamed.

It’s all because of Best Of–my newspaper’s annual reader’s poll for the 126 best of everything in San Luis Obispo County. It’s not just the fact that Best Of essentially triples my workload for several months–a workload I would not describe as insignificant. It’s the fact that Best Of is my annual opportunity to prove that our newspaper is the most creative, clever, resourceful, funny, that despite the fact that newsrooms are shrinking and budgets are essentially non-existent, that the newspaper has loudly and repeatedly been proclaimed to be going the way of the dodo, we’ve still got some fight left in us.

I love it. I hate it. And I’m smack in the middle of it.

Because I don’t really have the brain power to scratch my elbow, much less string enough coherent sentences together to tell a story or fashion a logical argument, I figured I would show you what I mean, starting with New Times‘ 2012 Best Of issue, which was videogame themed.

The theme helps the editorial department ensure that there’s some thread tying our disparate efforts together. More importantly, it provides me with a challenge for our photoshoots. As artistic director, I dream up the concept for the shoot, locate the models, location, costumes, and any other props we require, and help the photographer the day of the shoot (usually by carrying heavy equipment up mountains, but I won’t go into those details just now). There are seven categories and two covers–nine photoshoots in all–generally accomplished on a nonexistent budget, meaning my friends have to listen to me beg for horses and weapons and ballgowns throughout March and April.

Tomorrow, I’ll share the details (and photos) from our 2013 Bill Murray-themed issue, but for today, here are some (not anywhere close to all) of our 2012 Best Of photographs, shot by then-staff photographer Steve E. Miller:

Pac-Man dominated our Dining Out section. We did, of course, Photoshop cherries onto the platters. That’s our former Arts Editor Anna Weltner in the pink shirt, me in the turquoise, and News Editor Colin Rigley in orange.

Pac Man

Anna Weltner as Mario tried to rescue Princess (our graphic designer, Jenny Gosnell) from executive editor Ryan Miller, as Donkey Kong.


It was, of course, a success.


Link (Anna’s boyfriend, Chase Hall) got a pedicure at a local salon.


We unleashed Mario Kart mayhem on the dunes in Oceano.




And, my favorite shoot, involved recreating Street Fighter in front of a local bar named McCarthy’s. I was Chun-Li, then-Arts Editor Anna Weltner was Cammy, News Editor Colin Rigley was Ryu, then-staff writer Matt Fountain was Guile, then staff-writer Nick Powell was Zangief, staff writer Jono Kinkade was Blanka, intern Chris White-Sanborn was E. Honda, then-intern Maeva Considine was Vega, and graphic designer Brendan Rowe was Dhalsim.

Street Fighter at McCarthys  2012 Best of

Street Fighter at McCarthys  2012 Best of

Street Fighter at McCarthys  2012 Best of


Working for an alternative newsweekly might be stressful and low paying and sometimes quite frustrating, but I work with some of the coolest people in the world–even when I’m shouting at them to meet their deadlines. I think it’s safe to say, I could never work for a company that committed the sin of taking itself too seriously.


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