Three assignments stick out from my JRN 430 (Magazine and Feature Writing) course at Central Michigan University:
First, write a column about the merits of a particular household appliance. I wrote 350 words on a can opener.
Second, write a sports column. I wrote about the first World Baseball Classic.
Third, write a column about romance.
I got an A on one of these columns - the one about the can opener.
The WBC column included the following one-liner: "If Alex Rodriguez waffles any more about whether he'll play for the United States or Puerto Rico, he'll qualify to play for Belgium."
Professor Weinstock didn't get it. It was the best joke in the column and he didn't get it.
Waffles? Belgium? I'm still mad about that one.
As for the romance column? I didn't get it. He wrote "This isn't about romance."
And now I have to write a column on Valentine's Day. Don't expect the usual mushy stuff, because I'm still no good at writing about it.
I write what I know, but here's a few things I've loved about how the basketball season is going:
I honestly can't remember if I've seen as many competitive basketball games (both genders) in our area since I've been here.
Often, the nightly roundup is sprinkled with the odd 40-point blowout in which I ask the coach calling in to answer one or two questions and that's all there is to talk about. Tuesday, we had a 1,000th point scored, an overtime game and a decent 54-41 contest.
As for coverages, I've gotten to cover games decided by baskets at the buzzer on consecutive Friday nights, a third decided on the last play of the game, and a fourth that went to overtime. That's just me, not to mention the 3OT Calumet-Lake Linden game or the historic Houghton-L'Anse girls game.
And it's not like they're all pillow fights. I can safely say Monday's Houghton-Calumet girls' game in Calumet was one of the one or two best-played girls' games I've ever seen at the high school level.
L'Anse, when healthy, remains a threat to beat either team, and on the Class D side, parity has made just about every game in the Copper Country Conference up for grabs.
All three WestPAC?teams have made repeat appearances in the U.P. Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association poll and whoever wins the district in Houghton will almost certainly be the regional favorite.
On the boys' side, there are five local teams within two games of the .500 mark and a glut of potent scorers.
There have been 17 games of 30 points or more recorded by six different players in the Copper Country this season, and there are still 2 1/2 weeks of the regular season, plus postseason to go. Last year, there were 11 by four.
On the team front, both Lake Linden-Hubbell and Houghton have made major resurgences but must fend off a hungry pack of postseason hopefuls.
There's lots to love on the basketball floor this season.
Brandon Veale can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/redveale.