The Sam Antics is dead — Long live The Sam Antics

Here we go.

The past seven days have been my first without a full-time writing and reporting job since early 2011. That’s roughly five and a half years of living a life on deadline, yet never really being able to take a deep breath and relax upon meeting it as there was always another deadline and another newspaper issue looming over me.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed each of my career stops within the journalism world — some more than others, sure, but they all had ups and downs (many more ups than downs) among the unique opportunities presented and interesting stories I was lucky enough to tell.

When people learn you write for a newspaper, a lot suddenly reveal their inner media mogul. “Oh, newspapers are dying” or “People still read those rags?” Generally I just smiled through some sarcastic remark to continue/get out of the conversation, as I usually had (and still have) better things to do than mull over the historical context of the planet’s newspapers and what their future holds. Maybe this isn’t the right attitude for someone who’s been in the journalism industry for the past six years, but the entire “newspapers are dying” conversation examining how media outlets should best utilize the internet and social media in an ever-more-digital world is just one that I could not care less about being a part of.

Here’s how I see it: Every story/article/column ever written for any newspaper/website/blog is what? Words. Words arranged in such a way to tell a story, inform, persuade or achieve any other number of goals. Is the arrangement of (and subsequent consumption of) words in a meaningful way dying or in danger? No. People (me!) will keep writing, and people (hopefully you!) will keep reading.

Dating back to my first real writing gig (shoutout to The News Record, the University of Cincinnati’s independent student newspaper), consistently my favorite thing to write has been my column — The Sam Antics.

My The Sam Antics is not to be confused with other The Sam Antics of the internet. A cursory Googling will introduce you to other The Sam Antics that — I swear I am not making this up — teach you how to crochet superhero logos, or are popular(?) Canadian burlesque dancers, or are last-edited-four-years-ago blogs about gun control. Some of the internet’s other The Sam Antics have The Sam Antics URLs I missed out on and do envy, but hey I was the first to @TheSamAntics on the Twitter machine (Est. Nov. 2009) and staked my claim to the title here on the Medium medium.

And if I’m being truly honest, I didn’t even come up with “The Sam Antics” as the name for my column. My first column was published in The News Record my sophomore year at UC. (It was about the Cincinnati Reds and how they had previously been really bad at winning baseball games for some time, were presently really bad at winning baseball games and appeared destined to continue being really bad at baseball games, and that fans should demand better.)

All I did was arrange some words and sent them to my sports editors. They were (as I would later become near the end of my junior year) in charge of the sports section’s headlines, including the title of the column.

So with zero input from the titular Sam (pretty standard for me, though — do no work, take all credit), The Sam Antics was born. The name for my column (a play on words of the branch of linguistics studying word meaning, how appropriate) has stuck ever since.

The Sam Antics followed me to my first post-college job, where I covered high school sports for a trio of weekly newspapers based out of Jerseyville, Ill. I’m sure you’ve never heard of it. (Delightful little city in which to spend my first three-ish years out in the real world, though!)

Some of my best The Sam Antics column writing came out of those years in Illinois, during which I was really granted full control of the papers’ sports sections. That’s not something a sports writer often gets in their first job out of school. I was later told by my hiring boss that it was my The Sam Antics column writing from The News Record that really impressed him and led to my selection for the gig.

Maybe it’s tougher to tell in today’s world, but media outlets are supposed to be unbiased in their reporting. That was something I always took seriously from the beginning, even if I were only dealing with a high school basketball game between two of the schools I covered and not something that actually matters.

Report the facts. Tell the true story. Tell a good story and make it entertaining and exciting to read, but keep it professional.

The Sam Antics was different. My column was where I could let loose with biases and infuse my actual voice and tone into my writing, and that was what I enjoyed most.

Mostly just to reminiscence for my own sake, in the coming weeks and months I’ll dig up and post some old The Sam Antics highlights from my college and Illinois days just for kicks.

The career stops following my Illinois days didn’t quite allow for the same expression and personal voice The Sam Antics could provide. Thus The Sam Antics has been on hiatus, hibernating away in some deep dark corner of my soul until the latest career change sparked me to keep the writing muscles in shape.

The best part of The Sam Antics for me has always been using my own voice to write about whatever I want to write about. And even more so now, it’s all on the table. Sports, comic books, television, movies — whatever. (I’ll even be posting columns for The Hamsterdam Herald, the media outlet for which I sit on the editorial board for and is dedicated to covering the goings on of the Hamsterdam Fantasy Football League. It’s a weird, wacky fantasy football league that for years has provided one group of 20 lame dudes immense happiness and fond memories — with The Hamsterdam Herald’s coverage of the league among its highlights.)

I’ll keep arranging words. Maybe you’ll read (and, perhaps, enjoy?) them.