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Thanks for being a friend Superstore

So, let’s talk a little about Superstore.

Tonight, this sweet, hilarious and incredibly reflective show ends a six-year run with a little bit of fanfare but none of the awards it so richly deserves. 

There are countless, thoughtful takes on this show that promise to be exceedingly more well-written than this, and I encourage you to go find them. For instance, this piece by Scott Tobias for the New York Times is great, while this essay in Vulture by Kovie Biakolo is a brilliant take on the importance of representation in Superstore. They’re both wonderful reads.

More than that, if you haven’t watched Superstore, I strongly encourage you to add it to your viewing list and catch up on one of the most clever and charming sitcoms to be released in quite a while.

Given that my storytelling skills likely are not as artful and nuanced as others who can tackle the social importance of the show, I’d instead like to tackle why Superstore has made a lasting impression on my family this past year. That’s because, if I’m being honest, it wasn’t a show we were naturally drawn to. Sure, we had seen promos for it since its debut in 2015, but the promise of The Office set in a big-box store just didn’t do much for us.

That, of course, was our error. 

A Florida family affair

This is a guest essay from Matt Boedy, a professor of English at the University of North Georgia who teaches in its First Year Composition program, as well as upper-level courses in writing and publication. He is the author of Murder Creek, chronicling the story of the last man to die in Georgia’s electric chairand Speaking of Evil, an examination of the question of why God would allow for the existence of evil through a rhetorical prism.

There is a picture somewhere lost, but always in my mind. It is a Saturday morning in the fall in the South and like many of you we are dressed up in our team’s colors. It’s the 1980s, and we are standing outside a Knights Inn in Gainesville, Florida, a medieval-style rent-a-room with purple bed covers and coats of arms on the wall. 

There is my family — two parents, three kids — and my mother’s parents, all dressed in some shade orange and blue. Visors and hats and some with jackets. Some also with Gator icons rubbed on their cheeks. 

There is also in the photo the other half, my mother’s brothers and their children, dressed in garnet and gold. All dedicated to a school which these are directions to find it: drive north from Gainesville until you smell it and then left until you step in it.

We would chomp, and they would do that stupid arm motion and sing that stupid song where they spell the name of their stupid school like they are hooked on phonics. 

And win or lose, we all the next day would go to Shoney’s for breakfast. I loved that place.  

A reflection of place: The story of WNEG, part two

Photo of Mack Poss and Jason Maderer

This is Part Two of our look back at the history of NewsChannel 32, a television station that provided in-depth coverage of local news and sports for Northeast Georgia. In Part One, we took a look at the formation of the station and the work of its news department, and you can read it here.

There really isn’t any other to put it, but if you didn’t live through it, you don’t really get it.

You see, there once was a time where you couldn’t just flip on the TV and watch whatever game you wanted to watch.

This was especially true for the NFL.

Before the days of Sunday Ticket or RedZone — where the NFL finally realized it could make even more money by simply making you pay to watch its weekly games — folks were stuck with whatever it was the local networks gave them. If the Atlanta Falcons were blacked out, hello Dallas vs. Cleveland. If you really wanted to check in on that Miami-Washington contest, just hold your breath and hope they break into coverage to show you a quick snippet.

Yes, this is hard to comprehend in today’s media landscape where nearly every professional league has some sort of on-demand package to watch games, meaning a Seattle Seahawks fan in Memphis, Tennessee can tune in every Sunday to watch Russell Wilson scramble to and fro.

In the 1990s, we all were at the mercy of the prevailing media rules of the market. And that helped make WNEG a prized asset for cable providers beyond the Atlanta market. 

Balancing busy with passion

Insomnia is a funny thing.

You see, I haven’t slept terribly well since the beginning of the pandemic. Unending anxiety and existential dread can do that to you. And, while the restless nights often left me dragging in the morning, those middle-of-the-night hours where I’m awake do wonders for helping you think creatively and get organized for the day ahead.

It was one of those sleepless nights last June that I got the idea for this website.

Having returned to my writing roots as a freelancer, I was busy thinking of all the stories I wanted to tell but hadn’t been able to for so long. At the top of the list was compiling an oral history of a 1995 boys high school basketball game between Thomson and Westside. For 25 years, I have relished in being able to share that story with folks, talking about how I was one of 5,000-plus people to watch four future professional players duel in a double overtime game with a berth in the state tournament on the line between two nationally ranked teams.

One wins and makes it in. One loses and the season is over.

Conversation with a Creator: Richard Johnson

Each Thursday, we share an essay or story just for our Patreon subscribers that covers everything from sports to history to culture. As we get BTT launched, we’re making this content available to everyone for the first few weeks. We’d love to have your support, and if you become a BTT Backer for just $5 a month, you’ll get this type of content each and every week.

Our first conversation is with Richard Johnson, a Brooklyn-based sportswriter who has worked for ESPN and SB Nation. Recently, he just helped launched Moon Crew, a new college football newsletter, and published The Sinful Seven: Sci-Fi Western Legends Of The NCAA, a collection of essays and stories, with several of his former SB Nation colleagues.

BTT: When did journalism, writing in particular, become something you decided to pursue?

RJ: The writing thing, for me, didn’t happen until college. I went to the University of Florida and started out thinking I was going to be on TV. My degree is in broadcast journalism. About halfway through college, I thought to myself ‘I don’t love TV, it’s not my favorite medium.’ I’m talking about the normal, two-minute newscast thing — I think it lacks some context to the stories I want to tell.

I started doing some writing, and I really fell in love with it, probably around my junior year of college. I covered a team in a beat capacity, I really, really enjoyed it. In my senior year, I started working for the school paper, and I deeply loved the medium.

Still in Dale Earnhardt’s shadow, NASCAR leans into future

Photo courtesy of Joe VanHoose

It’ll be 20 years Thursday since Dale Earnhardt, the greatest NASCAR driver of his generation, died on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500. 

No, that can’t be right. 

How can it be 20 years since my greatest hero was found to be mortal? I can still remember being bummed with my mom at Daytona International Speedway the Thursday prior when Earnhardt lost the lead on the last lap of his Daytona 500 qualifying race. I can still remember racing off to my job at Baskin Robbins as FOX left the air that Sunday, my mom saying to me, “I don’t like this” as I walked out the door. 

Me neither.

I remember the phone call from my brother at work. Fortunately, the ice cream parlor was empty. 

“Dale’s dead,” my brother’s voice told me directly. That’s when I found out, but I already knew. 

NASCAR changed forever that day, and it’s been changing ever since. An entire generation of drivers have come and gone since Earnhardt helped steer it to national prominence. It’s hard to say what he would think about NASCAR’s path it has been on since he left us. 

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