Anthony Mantha and the Project Karamazov Missed Opportunity

Like fellow The Longest Wind contributor Stephan Mathos, I too had an opportunity to help Justin Tiemeyer in his #ProjectKarmazov quest. While Stephan’s story ended up being a bit of bad luck, mine was more of a missed opportunity and an unfortunate circumstance.

On July 4, I had been tasked with covering the Detroit Red Wings development camp in Traverse City for Michigan Hockey Magazine. At the development camp, Red Wings’ recent draft picks and young prospects come to Traverse City for a week of drills, workouts and scrimmages, as they prepare for the next step in their hockey careers.

About half of the participants were Red Wings draft picks and signees, and the other half were junior players who were not eligible to be drafted yet, but the Red Wings had their eye on them. So, guys like Dylan Larkin, Dominic Turgeon, Tomas Nosek and coach Mike Babcock’s son Michael Babcock would all be attending the camp.

Credit: NHL.com

My future BFF. Credit: NHL.com

However, the player I was most looking forward to meeting was Anthony Mantha. Anthony absolutely tore it up in one of the Canadian junior leagues this year scoring around a goal-per-game pace. He’s the most highly touted prospect the Red Wings have had in a long time, mostly due to the fact the Red Wings have made the playoffs for the past 23 years and don’t usually get the luxury of high draft picks. The sick thing was Anthony fell all the way to 20th when the Red Wings snagged him in 2013.

But enough of me gushing over the next great Red Wing. After a two-and-a-half hour drive, I arrived in Traverse City early on the Fourth of July excited for the opportunity to speak with future Red Wings. When I told Justin I was covering the development camp and who would be there, he told me this would be a perfect #ProjectKarmazov opportunity. Most die-hard and even some casual fans know who Anthony is, and for those who don’t, they certainly will once he makes it to the NHL.

I told Justin I couldn’t make any promises. I was there, after all, to do an assignment. I wasn’t going to Traverse City on my own accord. I was there representing Michigan Hockey Magazine and needed to act accordingly. I didn’t know what the itinerary of the camp would be — if there was going to be one-on-one time with the players, how many other media members would be there or if Red Wings PR would be watching my every move making sure these kids don’t say anything they aren’t supposed to. I wanted to help Justin, but to make a personal request when I was there to do another job was the unfortunate circumstance I spoke of earlier.

Anthony was in the group of prospects that took to the ice first for drills, so his group would be the first the other media members would talk to afterward. As the players started to file off the ice, we made our way down to the locker room area. Once I entered the locker room, that familiar stench of sweaty pads filled my nostrils, the same it did when I covered my first professional hockey game just two months earlier.

I quickly found Anthony. I knew what he looked like from pictures, but it wasn’t hard to find him on this day. All of the members of the media quickly formed a half circle around Anthony and his locker room spot. He was, of course, the most highly touted Red Wings draft pick in some time, and it was a no-brainer all members of the media would want to speak with him first.

I knew this was not my time to fulfill Justin’s request. Surrounded by other members of the media who also have jobs to do, it was not my place to waste their time asking Anthony to read lines from a book. I finished my interview with Anthony and went on to the next prospect. I promised myself I would make my way back to Anthony under two circumstances 1) He was no longer talking to any other member of the media and 2) I had finished talking to everyone else I wanted to interview.

I remember speaking with Tomas, a recent signee from the Czech Republic. Like many foreign players, his English wasn’t the best, but it was a lot better than my Czech. I remember looking over to where Anthony’s locker was and saw him undressing by himself. No media members, no PR members, nobody.

This was my chance.

I told myself as soon as I was done interviewing Tomas, I would head over to Anthony’s locker and ask him to help my friend. Unfortunately, it was a struggle because Tomas didn’t understand half of what I was asking him.

I finished up my interview with Tomas, and quickly headed over to Anthony’s locker, but he was no longer there. He had either started to shower or had already gone upstairs to begin the off-ice workouts the team had planned for his group. But either way, my opportunity was gone. I would have felt weird asking a PR member to get him for me as I no longer needed him for hockey-related reasons. I had an opportunity, and I missed it.

About a month ago, I had the opportunity to interview another professional athlete in former World Series champion Steve Edlefsen. I didn’t tell Justin about this one until after it happened, and didn’t even think about it when I was interviewing Steve. This one would have worked perfectly, because there were no other members of the media there. I had one-on-one time with Steve, but it completely slipped my mind. I had another opportunity and missed it.

One of these days, I will help Justin. One of these days.

Project Karamazov: Dirk Manning

Print

Dirk Manning. Credit: Dirk Manning.

One of my most exciting experiences from the year I lived in New York City was attending the 2008 New York Comic Con at Javits Center in Hell’s Kitchen. I got the autographs of several highly influential creators – including those of highly influential X-Men scribe Chris Claremont and infamous novelist Orson Scott Card – attended panels for Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay and Frank Miller’s The Spirit, and on Sunday I even bumped into The Daily Show‘s host Jon Stewart, who’d toted his kids along for children’s day. I showed up to let my geek flag fly, but I was also a man with a mission – to break into the comic writing business. The climax of my journey was when I mustered up the courage to walk over to then Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada and say, “Hello. My name is Justin Tiemeyer and I’d like to write for Marvel Comics.” Quesada’s response was priceless – he looked up, sighed, and said, “You have to go through the submission process just like everybody else.”

Writer Dirk Manning has had his own fair share of comic con run-ins with big names from the comic book publishing industry as described in Write or Wrong: A Writer’s Guide to Creating Comics, his autobiographical how-to guide for aspiring writers in the comic book medium. His conclusion: Don’t do it just like everybody else, because everybody else is not a paid comic writer. Most successful writers are successful only because they published their own independent comics long before Marvel or DC ever knew who they were. Manning cites Robert Kirkman’s Battle Pope, Brian Michael Bendis’s Lili, Garth Ennis’s Troubled Souls, Grant Morrison’s Zenith, and Alan Moore’s Maxwell the Magic Cat as examples (36). For Manning, it is not about spending your time mired down by the submission process of the Big Two (DC and Marvel) as Mr. Quesada suggested. In fact, he goes so far as to note that these editors cannot legally review unsolicited submissions due to intellectual property concerns (34). Manning’s key to success is making fully realized comics today. After all, what better proof could you provide an editor who wants to know if you can plot and script comics on the company’s dime than a finished comic produced on your own?

Manning’s heftiest contribution to the canon of recent literature is Nightmare World, a series of 52 horror comics originally published online at the Image Comics online imprint Shadowline, Ink. The anthology covers a variety of horror subgenres, from deals with demons (“For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)”) to delinquent artificial intelligence (“Extraordinary Machine”) to hitch-hiking murderers (“Movin’ Up”), all of which contribute to a grand unified story arc combining Lovecraftian mythology with Biblical imagery focused through Dante’s Inferno and traversing the apocalypse, the rapture, and all that follows. A couple of my favorite stories are “Knee Deep in the Dead” – a comedic critique of slasher films (and particularly slasher sequels!) from Friday the 13th to Halloween – and “Hungry Like The Wolf” – a stick figure werewolf tale and also one of the more brilliant pieces in the collection due to its creative use of pictures as a substitute for speech and inner monologue. A large portion of the Nightmare World series has been published in three volumes by Image Comics which are available for purchase on Amazon.com.

In a previous draft of this post, I went into a lengthy description of how Manning is the unicorn of comic writers – a unique type of individual that few will ever encounter and that those who have encountered are not likely to encounter ever again. This is because Manning was raised on novels, novellas, and short stories, not comic books and graphic novels. In an interview with Newsarama, Manning listed some of his favorite authors as Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, Edgar Allen Poe, Franz Kafka and George Orwell. Furthermore, with the exception of The Jovian in Nightmare World, Manning has no desire to write superhero stories. In this sense, Manning and I are different. My dream of being a comic book writer has always included writing big stories about my favorite comic book heroes. For Marvel, I wanted to write a post-Avengers vs. X-Men story about Cyclops abducting one-time friend Henry McCoy and travelling across space in search of Phoenix relics from other civilizations with the hope of finally reuniting with the great love of his youth, Jean Grey. I also had a pitch for Batman that I called “The Last Alfred Pennyworth Story.” It should be pretty clear that I am more of a horse than a unicorn. I want what every other aspiring comic writer wants – to have a cushy work-for-hire gig with Marvel or DC with the opportunity of developing your favorite characters for five or ten years. Manning is unique because he is repelled by that possible future and the likelihood of his creativity being stifled by excessive editorial oversight. For Manning, the greatest thing you could do is own your characters, develop them how they are meant to be developed, and make every sacrifice in making certain that your individuality is represented in the sovereignty of your own stories.

There’s more to Dirk Manning than just Write or Wrong and Nightmare WorldThere’s the noteworthy spiritual successor to Nightmare World titled Tales of Mr. Rhee, an unfinished web comic titled Farseekerand several other stories for such titles as Dia de los Muertos and Critter. For more information on Manning, feel free to visit the writer’s web site DirkManning.com, and for all the latest news follow Manning on Twitter @DirkManning.


 

ZEROBOUND

One of the main things I hoped to accomplish with #ProjectKaramazov was to distance the project from critiques that it is an egoistic and self-serving journey where I bask in the delight of interacting with my favorite celebrities regarding my favorite book by including information about organizations that help bring about measurable good in the world. When I asked Dirk Manning if he had a favorite charity, non-profit, or other philanthropic organization that he’d like to promote, he spoke of the charity of “paying it forward.” If Manning had his way, we would all hold this one axiom in our hearts: “Do one unsolicited act of goodness for someone every day.”

Though Manning himself did not hip me to Zerobound, I thought this organization might be worthy of looking into as a means of accomplishing Manning’s ideal of a daily dose of goodness. Founders Sabrina Norrie and Kelli Space tasked themselves with finding a creative way to give students a path out of loan debt. Space had made headlines years ago when she started a web site called Two Hundred Thou where she sought out public donations in order to conquer the $200,000 in student loan debt she acquired while attending Northeastern University. Following Space’s example, Zerobound is a crowd-funding platform like Kickstarter or Indiegogo where student debtors pledge to do volunteer work at local charities and nonprofits in exchange for financial pledges from their community that are directly applied to the student’s loan debt.

If you find yourself with the ability to make a contribution toward a better future for college graduates, head over to Zerobound and make a pledge to a current campaign. If you find yourself overburdened by the yoke of excessive student loan debt and strongly inclined toward volunteerism, follow the same link and start your own campaign. Comic writer Dirk Manning was able to get the first volume of his series Tales of Mr. Rhee into comic book stores with the help of a successful Kickstarter campaign. With somewhere near 70% of the population of the United States suffocating under the force of debt, Zerobound hopes to kick start a few lives, and perhaps a struggling economy in the process, by helping graduates help themselves get out of debt.

We should all be inspired by the imperative to do a good deed daily. It should serve as an excuse to get creative in helping those around us. Norrie and Space were following this moral rule, whether they intended to or not, when they founded Zerobound. I don’t want to do anything to stifle your ability to creatively help those in need in your community, but if you’re looking for a resource to bring your giving to a new level, you could find much worse places to go than Zerobound.

Project Karamazov: Pronunciation Guide

For those of you who wish to know the proper Russian pronunciations of the names featured in The Brothers Karamazov, I’ve pieced together this pronunciation guide. Special thanks to Tatiana Uglova for her tutorial on AllExperts.

Note: Capitalized letters denote which syllable is emphasized.

Adelaida – ah-dellah-EE-dah
Alexei – ah-lick-SYAY
Dmitri – DMEE-tree
Fyodor – FYO-daur
Fyodorovich – FYO-daurau-vich
Ivan – ee-VAHN
Ivanovna – ee-VAH-nauv-nah
Karamazov – kahrah-MAH-zauf
Mitya – MEE-tyah
Miusov – mee-OO-sauf
Pavlovich – PAHV-lau-vich

As of right now, I only have the names featured in the first chapter, but more are forthcoming.

Project Karamazov

Project Karamazov: How-to Recording Guide

Whether you’re a public person trying to record your own sentence from The Brothers Karamazov or a member of #TeamKaramazov attempting to get some words from a celebrity, this guide should help you to figure out the easiest way to do so.

iPhone

Voice Memos

Voice Memos has been a standard app on the iOS for as long as I can remember. It is fast, easy, and as of iOS7 the app looks much prettier as well. Here’s how to use it:

1. Touch the Voice Memos app.
2. Touch New Recording. The New Voice Memo window will open up and give you an option to name the voice memo. Choose a name, or leave it as New Recording, and touch OK.
3. Touch the record button. It is a big red circle with a white border. Recording begins immediately.
4. You may have noticed that as soon as you hit record, the big red circle transformed into a smaller red square, the universal sign for stop. As soon as you are done recording, touch the stop button.
5. Touch Done. The Save Voice Memo window will open, once again giving you a chance to name the voice memo. Once again, choose a name or leave it as is, and touch Save.
6. All of your recordings are listed in the white section on the bottom half of the screen. Touch the name that you assigned to your current recording.
7. You can listen to the recording by pressing the play button (a blue triangle), or you can send your recording via iMessage / text or email by clicking the square with the upward arrow coming from its center.

I will update this post every time I encounter a new method of audio recording that I have tested and know works. Let me know if you have a simple, highly accessible recording method that I should post here. (As you probably noticed, there is currently a big hole where the Android OS guide should be.)

Project Karamazov

Project Karamazov

Fyodor Dostoyevsky wrote The Brothers Karamazov in 1880, when the art of recording and replaying sounds as they passed through the air was still an exciting and new concept. With recordings by Simon Vance, Frederick Davidson, and Tim Pigott-Smith, among many others in the current Dostoyevsky library, the advent of the audiobook – or “book on tape,” as we called it in the grand old days of analog – made it seem as if there had never been a novel that could not be listened to via speaker or ear bud. In the years since Dostoyevsky’s final novel, Karamazov has entered the public domain, which resulted in perhaps the most democratic audiobook of all time, the free version as read by volunteers worldwide and distributed by Librivox.

I can think of only two frontiers that could make an audio recording of The Brothers Karamazov exciting and new again. The first involves recording Dostoyevsky himself as he verbalizes his magnum opus “the way it was meant to be heard,” (as with so many studies – historical Jesus, historical Socrates, etc., we’d seek to hear the true utterances of the master himself and in this case we’d be utterly ashamed to admit that none of us know enough Russian to even value this reading) and the second involves getting a large number of public figures to record, one sentence at a time, the entire work from beginning to end. The first idea is on hold until I clear my time machine with the Oppenheimer Board of Ethics in science which, like my time machine, doesn’t exist yet. The second idea is #ProjectKaramazov.

I could go on about how important Dostoyevsky is to the art of literature, how influential he’s been to the writers who have followed him, or how The Brothers Karamazov is his finest work. I could cite the conversation from LOST where John Locke (Terry O’Quinn) and Ben Linus (Michael Emerson) discuss how Hemingway never felt like he could excel as a writer in a world where the artifacts of Dostoyevsky’s existence still remained. In reality, my motives are entirely selfish – Dostoyevsky is my favorite author and The Brothers Karamazov is my favorite book. If you’re a F. Scott Fitzgerald fan feel free to tweet daily about #ProjectTenderIsTheNight. For me it has to be #ProjectKaramazov.

How does Project Karamazov work? I, myself, or another member of #TeamKaramazov, make contact with a public figure – I use the term public figure very loosely to mean someone who is known, or should be known, on at least a nationwide basis, if not worldwide – and request a reading of one sentence from The Brothers Karamazov. As the public person prepares a recording, I prepare a bio to accompany the public figure’s performance of the sentence. Once I receive the recording, I publish the audio file and details about its reader for public consumption, and then the process begins anew.

Regarding the time frame of this project, I do not delude myself into thinking that #ProjectKaramazov will be completed within my lifetime. Just as there must be a variety of public figures to read the work, there must be a variety of “true believers” behind the scenes of #TeamKaramazov to make sure the project keeps going. Though readers will be recording passages from my favorite novel, this is ultimately not my project, at least not mine alone; it is a community collaboration where we will discuss literature, charity – certainly those focused on literacy and education – and what it means to create, to have your voice heard in a public forum. #ProjectKaramazov is all these things, but it is also simply one recitation of one story written long ago.

If you have any questions or comments about #ProjectKaramazov, this is a good place to share them.

Resources:
How-to Recording Guide
Russian Name Pronunciation Guide