While we're all much more than just being Royals fans, it is the tie that binds us. What brought you to the Royals' front stoop knocking on the door to be let in? Perhaps more importantly, why did you stay?
I was born in August of 1986. My due date was in the first two weeks of August, meaning I was conceived in the week following the 1985 WS victory (I didn't put that together until a few years ago).
My dad is an "old school" baseball fan and has been a Royals fan for much of his life. I was raised to be so. He loved baseball, he loved the Royals, he was my dad. So I loved it, too. I never had a chance, really.
In my childhood, he took me to Royals games often. Most of the time, at least that I can remember (starting in the mid '90s and on) it was usually to see someone from the other team. I saw Roger Clemens and Randy Johnson pitch, I saw Mark McGwire hit one of his 70 home runs. I remember distinctly when George Brett retired, when Bob Hamelin had his good season, and several more memories that shaped my childhood.
Standard dating profile questions: Age? Sex? Height? Hair color? Marital status? Kids?
29, male, 6'3, blondish/brownish/reddish hair, married with two kids (nine-year-old stepson, five-year-old biological son).
While many choose not to define themselves by their job, what do you do to make ends meet? For how long have you been plying that trade?
I work for a local diagnostics company as an IT Support Analyst. I've been in the field for nine years and have had three long-term jobs in it.
Where do you live now, and where did you grow up?
I live in Kansas City, KS but grew up in Clinton, Missouri. I've always lived within 90 minutes or so of the KC Metro area.
Clinton, Missouri, named after the key promoter behind the Erie Canal and site of the Elks' Lodge collapse of 2006. Despite being in the cast shadow of Kansas City, it appears as though Clinton was relatively isolated from the big city life, at least judging by a map. Did a lot of life in Clinton revolve around the reservoir? What was your youth and family life like growing up in a town of fewer than 10,000 people?
Wow, you officially know more about my town than I do. Congratulations.
Full disclosure: I looked it up on Wikipedia.
I actually lived about 300 yards from the square where the Elks' Lodge collapsed in '06 and was on the square either when it happened or right after. I recall one of my friends being interviewed live on TV and when asked how he felt about it, he said, "I think it really sucks..." Quality TV for sure. I still think it's amazing only one person died. A lot of people I know were in the building that night. Just thankful it was a members only meeting so none of the wives or kids were in it.
I don't know how different life was growing up there versus growing up in the city. In that day and age, curfew for me was when the street lights came on (or, if I was within a few blocks outside, whenever my father whistled for me... to this day the loudest whistle I've ever heard, can be clearly heard two-plus blocks away). My childhood consisted a lot of parks and rec sports, going to the park, and as I got older owning a bike and riding around town with friends. Everyone in town knew my father (a letter carrier who can talk to anyone about anything for however long they're willing to listen), so I never really tried to get away with much at least during the day I wasn't supposed to. Plenty of secluded spots for teenagers to get up to what they ought not (BB gun wars in an abandoned production facility and off-road places for teenage couples to have "fun"), however, if you knew where to look.
Have you traveled much outside of the aforementioned 90-minute radius?
As a kid, my family took road trips a few times. South Dakota twice and Colorado once; that was all before I was 13. As an adult I've been to Las Vegas (planning another trip this summer, actually) and have spent quite a bit of time in Canada visiting friends and for a short while a girlfriend--the "Canadian" significant other everyone always talks about, right? I love Canada (British Columbia, specifically) and would love to retire to a town named Kelowna.
Other than that, I've always stayed around here. Clinton, Lee's Summit, Atchison, Lawrence, Shawnee, OP and KC.
What is your educational background/area of study?
After high school, I kicked around a ton of different ideas but ultimately heard a commercial on the radio while delivering pizzas for a local Tech School and opted to go that route. I did six months of full-time (8-4 or something like that) schooling and have been in IT since.
With the understanding that obviously baseball and the Royals are an area of interest for you, what other hobbies and interests do you have?
I've always been kind of a jack-of-all master-of-none when it comes to hobbies. They include, but are not limited to: writing (poetry, short stories, an attempt at a novel, songs), chess, playing instruments (guitar, saxophone, drums, piano, bass guitar and ukulele), watching a ton of movies (started when I worked at a movie theater as a teenager), playing StarCraft and following the professional scene, learning and performing street magic, and my current biggest hobby, playing poker.
Let's start with the writing here. Are you writing for your own edification, or is this writing you share with the masses in some way? Do you have subjects or themes to which you tend to gravitate? Is there a form in which you feel most comfortable? As someone who is currently "working" on two novels, I am always curious if others have more success in this venture. How far in are you? Are you still making progress toward an end?
I've done, as I said, a fair amount of writing. Some of it I don't share, at least not with those who know who I am. Some of it I find so ludicrously bad I should delete but have always held to the idea that someday I might do something with the shit I wrote years ago, so I keep it anyways.
I have one novel I've been working on since I was 13, and it was based on a dream I had. I'm 29 and still remember this dream clearly, so it made a real impact. Without getting into too much detail, the dream morphed into a friend of mine went missing, and me and a few others tracked him or her (I don't remember) to a portal that led to "hell" and had to go in. I woke myself up shortly after going through said portal and had trouble sleeping for a week due to this dream.
I tried for years to write something around this. Then at 16 or 17 I was driving home after dropping some friends off at home, and I had an epiphany on how one could turn it into a story. It's now an outlined trilogy in my head that I've got maybe 30 pages of typed. I struggle with filler. I could write the main points to it in a day, but then I'm left with barely a short story. Sometimes I think that serendipity addressed my "idea" for a story to another author (maybe Stephen King), and I just intercepted it. It may never get written as I struggled to do anything with it when I had time, and as a father now I don't really have the time.
Given the relatively long list of instruments you play, can I safely assume you were in band in school? What did you play? Have you been in bands in the past? Does learning to play an instrument come pretty easily to you? Given the fact that you play all these instruments and could form a one-man band, have you gone down the path to self-recording? Do you have all these instruments in the house currently?
Long question. I did play in band in school; tenor saxophone with some alto and baritone thrown in when needed. I recall my high school band instructor used to get frustrated with me because I would get bored with my parts and start learning other instruments' parts by ear. I could also tune by ear better than her, but that's something I worked on for years with the guitar since I hated having to break out a tuner.
I used to be able to pick up an instrument and learn it very quickly. I self-taught most of what I play (a few guitar lessons after I'd played for years to learn scales better, more music theory lessons than anything; also about a month of piano lessons), and still prefer learning by ear a new song than looking them up.
I have attempted some self-recording, and have a few things on YouTube (not that hard to find if you do a bit of digging; I think my username on there is similar to mine on here... not that they're that great), but I'm a perfectionist. When I write a song, I hear the entire song, multiple instrument parts, etc., and I struggle to find a way to translate all of that (or the time) into a recording. That and not having a drum set currently really impedes, and I HATE electronic drum kits.
I was in a few bands in high school; the peak of my musical career was performing on a local radio station based in Clinton--96.1, which in '03 turned into a contemporary Christian station--when I was 16. The station was shutting down, and I knew the head DJ from various talent shows, and he wanted to give us a shot. I know it could be heard up to Lee's Summit and Independence. I lost the recording over the years but the bass was out of tune through the whole song so no great loss. I was the lead singer (not due to talent, more due to a lack of talent from the other members), so that was doomed from the start. Somewhat talented with musical instruments I may be, vocally talented I most certainly am not.
With the interest in playing and writing music, do you have artists you love who inform what you do? Do you have artists you love who have nothing to do with what you play, but you love just the same?
I consider myself a guitarist first. I "cut my teeth" on classic rock, which was the music of choice of my parents. Eagles, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Beatles, Eric Clapton. Later Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and then into more virtuoso guitarists like Joe Satriani and Eric Johnson. I spent MONTHS learning "Cliffs of Dover", and once I had it down I don't know that I've ever played it since. I played "Eruption" by Van Halen in my 8th grade talent show, some Jimi Hendrix in talent shows later on.
I haven't played very much since I moved out and got into poker. Where I used to play often six or more hours a day, I probably play about that much a week now. I've been really into AWOL Nation, Mumford and Sons... as I started typing more of a list I realized you could look up playlists for 96.5 and get an idea of my current musical preferences. Most of what I write now has somewhat of an influence from that, but definitely more bluesy and rock-oriented due to my history.
As for music that doesn't influence me at all that I enjoy... Well, as a teenager I was a big music snob, if it didn't fit into the little box I thought of as "real music" (which at any point might contain stuff from The Eagles to Evanescence to Staind to Korn), I've realized I missed out on a lot. I don't really write pop music, but I enjoy some pop music now and again. I really like looking for covers of pop music done in a rock format (I'd really recommend tracking down Imagine Dragons doing "Blank Space"), or vice-versa. I think I just love the idea of taking an old idea, polishing it up and making it into something new.
What rabbit holes do you end up going down because of your love of film? What are some of your favorite films that you feel most people either did not see or do not properly value? Do you have any favorite filmmakers?
Rabbit Holes? Hmm. I started working at a movie theater (Crest Cinema) when I was 11. From then until about 14, they also rented movies, and I saw just about everything that came to theaters from 1997 to 2005 when I stopped working there. Even after that I saw most things. I just love going to movies. (Interesting side story, I have a lot of "paranormal experiences' from working there... My mindset has changed a lot lately, and I discredit my own experiences due to lack of evidence, but they are certainly there).
My favorite "not so known" movie is probably "The Nines", which stars some big names... Ryan Reynolds, Hope Davis and Melisa McCarthy. If you don't know of it and enjoy movies that have twists, I'd recommend it... Just don't google it because OMFGWTF spoilers.
My favorite type of films are actually horror movies. I know that maybe 1 in 15 are actually good, and you have to wade through an awful lot of garbage to find the good stuff, but finding one that is good is totally worth it. I enjoy found footage films, though the latest Paranormal Activity movies are pushing even my tolerance. I loved (LOVED) Cloverfield and Blair Witch (not the sequel), love the foreign films/versions of Pulse, Let the Right One In, and Pan's Labyrinth. I sometimes search for movies with actors you would generally not look for (Sasha Grey, the porn star, has been in a handful, Would You Rather was much better than expected), and sometimes I look for movies with actors and just watch them, ignoring the plots of said movies if I enjoy their acting (Paul Giamatti is one of these that I will just watch their films).
I prefer to go to the movies by myself. I take my wife and kids sometimes, but my wife prefers to watch them at home (barring big ones like Star Wars, LoTR, stuff like that). I just prefer the quiet of a non-crowded theater.
What's the best thing you've read in recent memory? Describe it as though you were trying to convince someone else that they should read it.
As a parent I don't get much time to unwind. When I do, I choose not to read most of the time because I spend a lot of my non-down time reading. The most recent things I have read have been a collection of poker books by Ed Miller, but I wouldn't really recommend them to anyone who is not fairly serious about poker.
I think the most recent set book I read that was fiction and something I'd confess to reading is a series of books called Kushiel's Legacy and Naamah's Trilogy. They're all books that take place in a fictional kingdom (Europe/France) set sometime around the 15th Century. If you're into fantasy at all, it's one of the best, but prostitution is a key theme, so it's not for young eyes. Magicians, angels, demons, a world in which every God and religion is real; conspiracies and one of the best antagonists I've ever read. Each book has its own plot twist where you think you're reading one story, then suddenly you're reading a completely different one. Truly fantastic.
We all have a long list of stupid shit that we've done. What's the dumbest thing you've done?
It's actually difficult to pick one, but I admit I haven't done a lot of actual "stupid shit" in the past several years (again, parent). My most recent stupid-shit event was in 2010 when I had just got engaged and found out my fiance was pregnant (in that order, so I have that going for me at least). I had won a seat in a World Series of Poker event but had to fund my own flight and hotel expenses. I booked the hotel for three days (the length of the tournament) but busted out in the first six hours on Day One. It turns out being stuck in Vegas with nothing to do and not knowing anyone for three days can be very expensive. I'm not proud to say I lost WAAYYY more money than I should have, and it led to the pawning of several items upon my return home to make ends meet. I'm thankful my then fiancée stuck with me, but it was a closer call than I like to think about.
Before that, I was kind of a pyro during high school and the years just after, and a friend of mine and I decided to attempt to throw a lit bag of stickless bottle rockets throw an open door at a local bar as we drove by. Thankfully, my friend had bad aim at 15 MPH and barely missed, and the bottle rockets went off just outside. It's hard to imagine what a gross of bottle rockets going off inside a crowded old bar would have actually done, but it wouldn't have been good.
Aside from being forgiving, what is the wife like? How has being a father changed you?
My wife is fantastic, and I don't just say that because she sometimes reads these. She's extremely supportive of all of my goals in life, which is a big thing for me since I have so many big ones (publishing my book, recording an album, winning a WSOP tournament, just to name a few). She and I are very similar politically (liberal Bernie supporters), spiritually (Atheists with years of soul searching under our belts) and have many same interests. She plays World of Warcraft, I play StarCraft. We both enjoy a lot of the same music, TV, and movies, but there are enough differences to make sure we can both do our own thing a lot of the time. We're both very independent. As I type this, she's sitting three feet from me playing on her computer, and we haven't said a word for maybe 20 minutes, and we're both okay with that.
We almost never fight. Not that we don't have our issues, but we're both good at backing down from anger and discussing the problems instead of yelling. I honestly can say I've not met anyone with as healthy of a relationship as we have in that regard. If we were just less lazy, we'd probably be the perfect couple.
I got a pre-made family. I met my wife shortly after she and her ex had split up, and she came with a three-year-old. After they moved in and she got pregnant with our youngest, he started calling me dad naturally. The first few times (before we were engaged), we put a stop to it, but once it was settled, we let him start calling me dad. It's been that way ever since.
Other than just being tired all the time, it's definitely made me more responsible. The Vegas thing I talked about happened in the transition of being "Jesse" to being "dad." Once I embraced being "dad", those old habits just died. I'm a much safer driver, I spend a lot less money myself, I try to eat a bit better--we recently cut soda entirely--and have had to work to cut some of my worse habits from single life to be a role model for my sons. I'd say it's definitely made me a much better man, though sometimes I do still long for the pre-family life and the freedom it came with. That said, I wouldn't trade it for the world.
Describe yourself in three sentences or less.
A reformed troublemaker turned semi-responsible husband/parent. I have too many hobbies and interests to ever focus on one or decide what I (really) want to be when I "grow up."
All right, given your possible pyromaniac past and your reformed troublemaker descriptor, I have to think there's more to your past here. What were you getting into in your younger, wilder years?
Oh boy, let's get this out of the way. I'm a nerd. Baseball kind of hides it, but I'm a huge nerd. I had a telescope as a kid, and I used to go out a lot at night to look at the stars with it.
As I entered my teenage years, the telescope became an excuse. I'd leave a note on my back door after my parents went to bed in case they got up, which they never did, and take it with me, hide it behind the garage, and go out and meet up with some buddies.
At first it was just sneaking out to sneak out at say, 12. We'd walk to the gas station not far from where we lived, buy a soda and candy bar, walk home... call it a night. Then we found out how to get on top of some buildings on the square. Then we started doing a lot of things I'm not proud of... ding-dong ditching people at 1:00 AM, vandalizing property, starting fires (not house fires, at least) just to name a few. It culminated the summer of 2001 when I was caught, with two of my friends, by my girlfriend's mom. The issue; my girlfriend's mom was a cop. On duty.
Sparing the details, I didn't get in any trouble (I'm smarter than to do the spray painting myself) and was only grounded for a week. My friends got community service. I turned 16 in August that year, and my parents told me if they ever caught me doing something like that again I'd lose my car until I was 18.
So, I never got caught again.
Nah, to be honest after that I straightened up for the most part. We used to buy half-gallon containers of Whoppers (malted milk balls) and throw them at cars as we passed on the road. No damage, but they sounded like rocks. Usually that ended with a car chase; but I was usually a better driver than our targets (or maybe just more stupid). We used to go out out "haunted" places a lot. There's a cemetery about ten minutes east-southeast of Clinton called Bethlehem. It has a long history of being haunted. Probably because there's nothing around for a couple of miles (no houses, nothing). It's actually quite peaceful, having gone as an adult not looking for thrills. There's a story of a headless ghost in a park in Clinton, we used to go there a lot. We'd sometimes make Drano bombs (made, oddly enough, not with Drano) or dry ice bombs, or just drive to Harrisonville and buy a bunch of bottle rockets and shoot them out of the car when we drove down the street (a few times this led to panicked exiting of said car... you can imagine why).
All in all, I'd say I'm lucky to have not gotten into a whole lot more trouble than I did as a kid. Also probably lucky no one ever got seriously hurt doing our stupid antics. My girlfriends in high school did some good keeping me from doing the really stupid things, so I'm thankful for that at least.
What Royals Reviewer would you be most interested to meet in person? Why?
The people I find myself in discussions with the most are Scott, MightyMinx and Max. That said, I think they are also three of the top commenters, so it's hard to say that's anything to do with meshing personalities. That being said, no one else is coming to mind, so we'll leave it with those three.