Blog

Holy Kapow!, Batman!

Slam!  Blast!  Rip!

I’m a bit of a news junkie.  I can’t help it.  The newsroom is in my blood such that I spend more time scanning headlines than a healthy person rightfully should.  I have a problem, yes, but that problem led me to a recent observation:  Have you ever noticed how many headlines these days contain one of the aforementioned combat words?

Road Runner slams Wile E. Coyote!  Harry Potter blasts Draco Malfoy!  Pooh rips Piglet!  You get the idea.  This is what passes for news these days.

It’s like the old-time Batman TV show.  You know the one I’m talking about.  Burt Ward.  Adam West.  Enough cheese to shame Wisconsin.  Bam!  Pow!  Thwack!  Take that, Penguin!

That show was hardly a thing of beauty.  Neither are today’s headlines.

Blame it on the internet.  This is the click-bait culture, I guess.  Conflict creates interest.  Fighting words signal conflict.  What outrageous thing did so-and-so say about so-and-so today?  And down the rabbit hole we go.

Blame it on us.  This is increasingly who we are, I’m afraid.  Who can get in the sly dig?  Who can “destroy” an enemy with quick wit and a superior intellect or maybe just the brute force of belittling an opponent?

Never mind that somewhere out there the other guy has a mother who loves him too.  Never mind that the other guy puts his pants on one leg at a time, just like you do.  (I mean, you do, don’t you?)  Never mind that the other guy has a life experience and a viewpoint just as valid as yours and mine.  No, apparently, it’s more fun to duke it out.  It’s more satisfying to demean and demonize.  Sort of like picking a scab.

Call me a spoilsport, but when did we become such an insufferable bunch of know-it-alls, so convinced we’re right but so insecure in our position as to feel compelled to beat everyone else into submission?  Whatever happened to turning the other cheek?  Why must we dignify every slight, perceived or otherwise, with a response?  Move on and think happy thoughts.  Better yet, just listen.

No question something has to change, so I’m starting with me.  I hereby vow not to take the bait.   I won’t go down that rabbit hole.  I want to build up, not tear down.  Maybe if we all work together on this, work on ourselves, our own little positive contributions to the ocean of humanity will add up enough to make a difference.  At least that’s what I’m hoping.

Kerplop!


Chris lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, with his wife, Sara, and their six young children.  He has a B.A. in communications (print journalism) from Brigham Young University and a J.D. from the University of Nebraska College of Law.  Chris enjoys music by The Piano Guys, flying kites, and pumpkin pie.  Chris is the author of Red: A Football Novel.  He also spent two years in the Dominican Republic without a pillow, but that’s a story for a different day.

HOME

Husker Classics

If you need something to fill the Nebraska football-sized void in your life this fall, check out the schedule below for an entire season’s worth of Husker classics. There’s a game for each football Saturday of 2020. All of the games except the season finale are “no huddle” editions, so you can watch an entire contest in just forty-five minutes. Enjoy, and Go Big Red!

Husker Football Classics 2020 Season Schedule

Sept. 5th: vs. LSU (1971 Orange Bowl)

Sept. 12th: at Oklahoma (1971)

Sept. 19th: vs. Oklahoma (1978)

Sept. 26th: vs. Miami (1984 Orange Bowl)

Oct. 3rd: vs. Oklahoma State (1988)

Oct. 10th: vs. Miami (1995 Orange Bowl)

Oct. 17th: vs. Florida (1996 Fiesta Bowl)

Oct. 24th: at Missouri (1997)

Oct. 31st: vs. Tennessee (1998 Orange Bowl)

Nov. 7th: vs. Tennessee (2000 Fiesta Bowl)

Nov. 14th: vs. Oklahoma (2001)

Nov. 21st: vs. Michigan (2005 Alamo Bowl)

Nov. 27th: vs. Colorado (2008)

And when you’re done with all of that, you can relive the 1994 season through the eyes of teenage brothers Robert and Charlie Hall.

Two brothers, one team, and the greatest season ever told. Red: A Football Novel by Christopher D. Seifert.

Chris lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, with his wife, Sara, and their six young children. He earned a B.A. in print journalist from Brigham Young University in 2003 and a J.D. from the University of Nebraska College of Law in 2006. Chris enjoys University of Nebraska football, drawing with crayons, and chocolate chip walnut cookies.

HOME

Simple Pleasures

It was the worst of times, it was the best of times …

News flash:  The year 2020 has been a real bugaboo-boo.  Even an introvert like yours truly isn’t immune to the claustrophobia of social distancing.  I’m off-kilter, my senses are a tad dull, and if I have to attend one more dadgum Zoom meeting, I’m pretty sure my brain is going to explode.

Meanwhile, political and racial and societal strife rage.  We fight about masks.  We fight about privilege and prejudice, protests and pillaging.  We fight about everything.  People are getting sick or worse, and we shout at each other across the immensity of cyberspace.  Forgotten are empathy, compassion, and forgiveness.  Indeed, the love of many waxes cold.

Then, just when you think it can’t possibly get any worse, football (for a favorite local team, at least) is – ahem! – postponed.  We’re staring down fires and hurricanes and murder hornets.  Beloved superheroes are dying.  Don’t even get me started on that election eve asteroid heading our way.

In a lot of ways, it feels like 2020 is just plain running up the score.  When will it end?  No one knows other than to say eventually, but believe it or not, there’s actually a silver lining or two woven into this mess.  Somehow amidst all the mayhem, I’ve appreciated the opportunity to slow down, simplify, smell the roses.  There are simple pleasures I’ve enjoyed more these last few months than I would’ve otherwise.

Music, for one.  And dancing.  I don’t even like dancing.  I have two left feet at least, but all-out, high-energy, take-no-prisoners family dance parties are the best.

My wife and I now indulge in nightly walks around the neighborhood.  There’s time to converse and connect.  (If only I could somehow keep my lovely bride from hauling home our neighbors’ curbside rejects.)

Stargazing sessions on the trampoline are more frequent.  Did you know I saw a shooting star the other night?

Books are never far away at our house, but right now they’re nearer than ever.  The kids hang on my every word during bedtime readings from The Lord of the Rings. Absolute heaven.

I wish I could say I’ve written more.  The inspiration has been there in spurts, if not gaudy word counts.  I’m tinkering with an old manuscript from a few years ago.  Slow and steady wins the race.

In the end, my favorite part of 2020 has been home church.  For months now, Sunday services have mostly been happening for us in our living room instead of at the chapel.  Our family prays together, sings together, takes Christ’s name upon us together.  Each of us, including the children, deliver sermons in turn, and the spirit of it has been oh-so sweet.

Yes, one day this will all be over, and we’ll come out on the other side better for it.  When that happens, I wonder if we might just be surprised at the fondness with which we look back.


Chris lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, with his wife, Sara, and their six young children.  He has a B.A. in print journalism from Brigham Young University and a J.D. from the University of Nebraska College of Law.  Chris enjoys music by The Piano Guys, flying kites, and pumpkin pie.  He also spent two years in the Dominican Republic without a pillow, but that’s a story for a different day.

HOME

Winner

I admire talented people.  I especially admire talented people who are good, which brings me to my dear friend Jerry Spinelli.  I’ve never met the man.  I’m not intimately familiar with the details of his biography, but I feel like I know him.  Of course, I know him.  I’ve read his books.  I can therefore attest that Mr. Spinelli is both a gentleman and a poet.

I was well into my twenties, somewhere on the verge of law school, when I discovered his writings.  My mother was a junior high school librarian at the time.  She sent me a copy of Mr. Spinelli’s Newbery Medal winner, Maniac Magee.  Even though the typical Jerry Spinelli reader is probably ten years old, my then soon-to-be lawyer self was charmed by the book.  That should tell you something about my maturity level, both then and now.

Mr. Spinelli writes about nice people.  He mostly writes about happy, functional families.  His stories are gentle.  I know what you’re asking yourself.  What’s the fun in that?  How do you squeeze any drama out of something so mundane?  I might wonder the same thing too if I hadn’t experienced his books for myself.  Let me assure you the conflict is real.  His characters are usually kind-hearted people who need to grow.  They have something to learn.  That, as it turns out, is a marvelous recipe for a story.

The Spinelli book that’s stuck with me most all these years, the one I want to tell you about right now, is a little novel called Loser.  It’s a book about a kid named Donald Zinkoff who doesn’t quite fit in.  He wears a giraffe hat on the first day of school, for crying out loud.  He’s goofy.  He misinterprets social cues.  He’s not fast, athletic, or cool.  Instead, he’s good, and over the course of the book Donald Zinkoff learns to face his fears – and ultimately refuses to let the world label or define him.  I like that.  The message resonates with me in a way few books have.

The last eight pages of Loser might just be some of the finest prose I’ve ever read.  No matter how many times I revisit it, that last chapter always gives me goosebumps.  It makes me want to cry and cheer all at the same time.

I wrote a letter to Mr. Spinelli once.  I told him Loser is one of my favorite books of any make, model, shape, or size.  A few weeks later, I got a note back from him.  He said it’s one of his favorites too.

I finished reading Loser to my kids last week.  I hope they were listening.  I hope they understood what Mr. Spinelli was trying to tell them.  I hope they felt the beauty of his words because they were coming from a place of goodness, and the world right now could sure use more of that.


Chris lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, with his wife, Sara, and their six young children.  He has a B.A. in print journalism from Brigham Young University and a J.D. from the University of Nebraska College of Law.  Chris enjoys music by The Piano Guys, flying kites, and pumpkin pie.  He also spent two years in the Dominican Republic without a pillow, but that’s a story for a different day.


HOME

Bless This Mess

While surfing Twitter not long ago, a couple idle thoughts rattled around in my thick skull:  1.  I vehemently disagree with at least half of what’s out there.  2.  I’m offended beyond belief by the other half.  Yes, the social media universe is generally a steaming pile of stuff, so there’s that …

In case you haven’t noticed before now, I like words.  As a college sophomore, I decided words were my calling and declared a major in communications – print journalism, to be exact.  I wanted to chase stories.  I wanted to put myself out there on the written page, and that’s what I did.  I don’t know if I can fully describe to you the thrill of waking up each morning to see my own words in print, scattered to the four winds of campus.  Who cares if my stories were about such truly consequential issues as car-less dating or weather patterns over the Utah Valley?  They were my stories, and it was fun while it lasted.

Then I went to law school.  Talk about a buzzkill.  Well, law school can take the journalist out of the newsroom, but it can’t take the newsroom out the journalist.  Even after all these years, I still feel the itch.  I still yearn to put my words out there.  Then along comes social media, promising likes and an audience, and the allure is too great for me to resist.

Suddenly, I have a megaphone again, but you know what?  Everybody else does too, and it’s tempting to think that therein lies the problem.  As Abraham Lincoln or Mark Twain or Larry the Cable Guy once said, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to tweet it out and remove all doubt.”

More than simple ignorance, however, the paranoia and anger take it to a whole different level.  I shudder to think how much online content consists of (at worst) outright lies or (at best) gross distortions of the truth that serve no other purpose than to incite you to anger toward Democrats, Republicans, protesters, police, the media, Fred Rogers, puppies, the Wiggles, and your own grandmother, to name a few.  What a shame.  We’re so much better than that.  At least we should be.

But as I surveyed the wreckage of the Twitter-verse, I had another thought too.  Somehow the desolation is beautiful in a way.  I’m glad you get to be wrong.  (The failing is one I will never know, of course.)  I’m delighted you get to offend because speech is messy.  Freedom is messy.  Life is messy.

I just wish more of us were actually listening to one another.  I wish more of us were trying to understand.  Because I think to myself what a wonderful (virtual) world that would be.


Chris lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, with his wife, Sara, and their six young children.  He has a B.A. in print journalism from Brigham Young University and a J.D. from the University of Nebraska College of Law.  Chris enjoys music by The Piano Guys, flying kites, and pumpkin pie.  He also spent two years in the Dominican Republic without a pillow, but that’s a story for a different day.


HOME