Old battlefields of racism run deeper than the Deep South

Nearly 30 years ago I stood in the shade of a willow tree overlooking a Civil War battleground in Georgia, contemplating the blood that had been spilled on those now lush, green grasses carpeting the rolling hills of Kennesaw Mountain.

After living in the Deep South for close to 10 years, the last several of which were spent in Atlanta, I felt I had a different perspective from many southerners regarding that period of our nation’s history. Admittedly, having come from Oregon, I felt a certain kinship to The South’s identity as a rebel.

Yet at the same time, I found it hard to walk the thin line between recognizing The South’s undeniable history while overlooking the shadows of racism intertwined with it.  Continue reading

The cultural dangers of social media without consequence

In the late 1950s, iconic newsman Edward R. Murrow recognized a paradox developing as the advent of television was transforming news reporting from the purely word-driven medium of radio into a much more powerful visual medium available in homes across America.

Murrow understood that news journalism would never be the same. He also recognized the responsibility that accompanies that kind of power.

In 1958, during a Radio-Television News Directors Association and Foundation dinner where he was the keynote speaker, Murrow spoke of the new television medium and the potential effects it could have on journalism and our society as a whole.  Continue reading

If you’re a writer, join the club! (At NSNC, I mean)

imageHey, let’s be honest.

Being a writer is weird.

Most people, given a choice between writing a 200-word essay or being taised in the bare buttocks, would drop their pants before you can say “It was a dark and stormy nigh-AAAAAggghhh!”

Particularly in today’s faced-paced, text-speak oriented world of social media shorthand, the thought of spending hours toiling over words in order to convey an idea, feeling or moment is — in the words of Master of Horror® Stephen King — “A little creepy. But I like it.”

Several years ago, I let my membership to the National Society of Newspaper Columnists lapse. As a result, publishers stopped taking my calls; I entered into a period of writer’s blockage similar to eating a two-pound brick of cheddar; thousands unfriended me on Facebook; I burned my pizza; the list goes on.

Ok, fine. None of that happened, although I did burn a pizza.

Coincidence? We’ll never know for sure.  Continue reading

My tips for celebrity men on how NOT to excite women

imageWe’ve all seen the images of crazed women grabbing at male celebrities like Ryan Gosling, Justin Bieber and Zac Efron.

We’ve watched the footage of a female fan clawing at Tim McGraw’s pant leg, causing him to shove her hand away in an attempt to avoid being dragged into a sea of crazed women.

As I write this, I silently nod my head in understanding.

Being that my job has kept me in the public eye for more than a decade, I have some advice for the country superstar when it comes to avoiding overzealous women trying to get their hands on you:

Become a humor columnist.

In the last 16 years, the closest I’ve come to having a strange woman grab at me was during a fundraiser dinner, when part of my pulled-pork sandwich went down the wrong way and a nurse in the audience gave me the Heimlich Maneuver.  Continue reading

A love note for no reason doesn’t mean I’m in trouble

image “If I had three wishes, none would compare to the one God already granted when he gave me you.”

I wrote those words on my wife’s Facebook today, as well as my own, inspired by no other reason than being the lucky man who can say them to her.

It’s not our anniversary;
Valentine’s Day is still more than a month away;
And no, I didn’t do something stupid.

I just love her.

It’s been that way since the moment we met. Honestly; the moment we met. And the only reason I didn’t say it right then and there was because I didn’t want to seem like a weirdo on our first date; there was plenty of time for her to figure that out later. I can’t explain how I knew so quickly and completely that I loved her. The closest I’ve come to describing it is that, even though we’d never met, somewhere in my heart I already knew her — so she was easy to recognize. I’ve been thankful for each day since and I make sure to tell her so. Today it just happened to be on Facebook. Continue reading

Do publishers really give a [Tweet] about a writer’s social media presence?

image Welcome to Ned’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing, a weekly writing feature heralded by Master of Horror® Stephen King as “A rare combination of writing advice and rabies…” and by 50 Shades author E.L. James as “My literary yardstick, which I’d like to break over someone’s…”

But enough accolades!

For those who might be visiting for the first time, I should explain that my NWOW is when I gather the writing wisdom I’ve gained through 15 years as a columnist and offer it to you, much like a coffee baristo preparing your favorite latte, except without all that annoying screeching and frothing. Unless you’re into that kind of thing.

This week’s NWOW topic was actually suggested by talented writer, mom and blogger Michelle at MamaMickTerry, who asked:

Dear Mr. Hickson: Does having a blog help or hinder getting published?

She followed this up a short time later, after what I’m guessing was a glass or two of wine, with a more specific question:

Listen here, Neddy-O: Do you think publishers really give a [TWEET] about a writer’s social media presence? DO you? And hey, is it just me or does Thor’s hair need some de-tangler? Continue reading

NO, it doesn’t bother me my dog has more selfie requests than I do

 "To all my fans, especially that little sheltie next door." — Stanley

“To all my fans, especially that little sheltie next door.” — Love, Stanley

Maybe it’s the strong nose. Or the full lips and scruffy grey beard. Or possibly the big, brown bedroom eyes. Whatever the reason, since Saturday’s post, I have been inundated with requests for “full body” shots…

…of my dog, Stanley.

In fact, within 10 minutes of posting a shot of his nose, my dog surpassed the number of “selfie” requests I have received since joining Twitter three months ago. It doesn’t matter my only request came from a spam link to a senior citizens dating website called “Old Dogs Seeking New Tricks.”

What matters is that I have been unable to shake a stalker called “Granny C-Pap.” Continue reading