Archive for the ‘Writing Samples’ Category

Op-ed piece from The Pioneer, 4 August 1995

May 4, 2010

Holiday verbosity
Joel Edelman

Summer and romance are two words commonly aligned and, with all the summer love in the air, is it any wonder that St. Valentine’s Day is in February, the middle of winter? Perhaps if you can make a relationship last all the way through a hard winter, then that significant other is worth a token of your gratitude after all.

Some couples, however, have taken gift-giving beyond the scope of specific holidays, and into a new era of “because I want to show how much I care about you.” From a male point of view, I admit this is very nice. Not only can I give a gift strictly out of the goodness of my heart, but it makes it that much easier to forget all those birthdays and anniversaries.

Now, Hallmark has fought back with their “creation” of new holidays, such as “Sweetest Day,” and the like. Only they can get away with literally picking a date from a hat, and designating it a special day of some sort. In 20 years, the majority of the population may think that Groundhog Day was invented by “the greeting card experts” as a card for Farm Aid.

Some of these days may end up disappearing. I doubt that Asparagus Salesmen Day has the appeal to stand the test of time. However, one special day has become a mainstay. Although not celebrated by many, Grandparents’ Day has made an impact in the greeting card industry (read: other companies make cards for this “holiday” as well). Every year over four million greeting cards are sold for this occasion. Cards tend to run almost two bucks these days, so $8 million is spent each year to wish parents’ parents a happy day. There are no breakfasts in bed, no trips to the ballgame, just a friendly $2 of love.

When I was growing up in San Jose, I didn’t have such days to worry about. I admired Martin Luther King, Jr. for his efforts for racial equality as well as the day off from school. Maybe someday there will be cards for this holiday as well. I would have given one to my first grade teacher. She taught me the “other,” more important reason we celebrate his birthday as a holiday.

If I wanted to give my grandparents Ñ or any relative for that matter Ñ a card, I would make one. I would put crayon to paper and facetiously say, “Grandpa Edelman, I love you because you’re wonderful… and you give me quarters, too.”

I would bet you all the quarters my grandfather has ever given me that I could find a greeting card that said the exact same thing. I am fairly confident that when I have kids and when the Long-haired Parental Unit Day rolls along I will receive a card from the little tykes that reads, “Happy Long-haired Parental Unit Day… if it wasn’t for you, then we would not be here.” It will have a computer-enhanced image of their signature when they turn 18, so I will know it is from them. (With all the DNA technology existing these days, would anything surprise you?)

Every calendar lists a different set of holidays. One BBS (Bulletin Board Service) that I call for KSUH radio, lists holidays in effect on that date. There usually are at least three or four listed. Many are religious holidays (Yom Kippur, for example). Others are “industry manufactured.” I think today is Love Your Barber Day.

Andy Rooney once said about memorial holidays, such as Dr. King’s, that instead of remembering them upon their death, we should be kinder to them when they are still alive.

Despite all the holidays in our society, there are still no holidays in August. You would think a month created by Augustus would have the most holidays as well, but this is not the case. As we add Porcupine Awareness Week, we still fail to include August in the mix.

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, you can e-mail me at jughead@inferno.com. Or you can listen to me on KSUH Tuesdays from 2-4 p.m., Thursday from 10-Noon and Friday from Noon-2 p.m., check your cable listings for channel number. Take care now, and have a good Atari 2600 Remembrance Day.

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Op-ed piece from The Pioneer, 28 July 1995

May 4, 2010

Joel speaks out for those who can’t
Joel Edelman

In a recent edition of The Pioneer, there was an article written by Kelly Lake titled “Consumer help for all.”

In Lake’s article there are three items of Òconsumer help.” The first and third are very informative. However the second “helpful hint” is perhaps more damaging than it is helpful.

The second “helpful hint,” titled “Attention Dieters,” is a piece lamenting the problems of calories and sugar, and how fat-free products are useless in the pursuit of losing weight. In the immortal words of Al Bundy: It isn’t the dress that makes you fat, it is the fat that makes you fat. The only infomercial that has ever made scientific sense to me was Susan Powter’s Stop the Insanity series. One of her other key phrases Ñ high volume, low fat Ñ should be the key to any dieter’s success.

There are two keys to losing weight if you are obese: increasing your personal daily activity and consuming less fat than you burn. Have you ever seen an overweight vegetarian? No. This is because most people receive their fat from meats, and vegetables are fat-free.

Some people try starvation diets. As Powter has proclaimed, this is like running a car without gas. Where can you drive without gas? Nowhere. Would you like 137 baked potatoes or a Twinkie? The reasons for starvation diets not working are twofold. First off, people cheat. And when they do cheat, it is with something “dense,” a fat bomb of some sort. Do you see a person defeat their diet-causing hunger with a rice cake or a brownie? Case dismissed. Secondly, when bodies don’t have energy (calories are energy, fat is, well, fat) they go after the muscle tissue to subsist first. Fat insulates better, and our bodies have evolved to survive during the cold Ice Ages of times past. After all, tone muscle is denser than body fat, and therefore weighs more, so how important is weight anyway? Starvation diets show small, immediate results, and this is what makes them seem so great on the outside. But it could quickly add up to several different eating disorders.

This summer, when Olympic Trials are held, look at the female gymnasts. On a windy day they would be knocked over. These “pixies,” as they are often referred to, are rarely over five feet tall, and never even close to 100 pounds. They are starved, sometimes by their families and trainers, other times by themselves, especially after being told that they could squeeze an extra turn in their jumps if they only “dropped five more pounds.”

Five pounds to me is nothing (I weigh 190). But if you only weigh 75 pounds, those five pounds are much more important. In the past year a former gymnast died in her 20s, and it was related to anorexia nervosa, a severe eating disorder where people are convinced that they are “too fat,” and literally starve themselves into non-existence. When she was competing she was a “healthy” 85-90 pounds, but at her death she was down to 60. When a female gymnast’s career ends (usually in their early 20s), the thoughts in their heads remain. With as many as 15 years of training behind them, they are used to not eating for days at a time.

I have pen pals around the world. One who lives in Nebraska stopped writing for almost six months, then responded to a letter I sent. Her parents had divorced, and for attention, she constantly starved herself (this brings new meaning to the phrase starved for attention). She had dropped to only 85 pounds from 120. I convinced her to see a doctor, and he diagnosed her with anorexia. She is on the road to recovery now, and while it will be some time before she rejoins her high school soccer team, she is already feeling a thousand times better.

Another pen pal of mine lives in Iowa. Recently she has been depressed, because “boys don’t like her.” I have noticed that she comments more and more on how she is “losing weight,” and that she fits into a size five now. And in every letter she mentions that she “looks better in a swimsuit now than before.” I am worried that she could be entering the pathway of an eating disorder. I hope that I can somehow steer her away from this hellacious problem.

I guess the moral of all this is that for others to be happy with you, you must be happy with yourself first. Why would you want people to like you anyway, if they only hung around you for your appearance? And to Kelly Lake, no hard feelings, I wouldn’t want to stop you from writing for this fine publication, but I felt I had to speak out on this one.

Questions, comments or suggestions can be directed to jughead@inferno.com, or you can leave a note with The Pioneer. You can listen to me on KSUH every Thursday from 10 a.m. until noon, and on Fridays from noon until 2 p.m.

Op-ed piece from The Pioneer, 14 July 1995

May 4, 2010

The pen is mightier than the sword, but only if you can find it
By Joel Edelman
Joel Edelman is a mass communication major at CSUH

The pen is mightier than the sword, but only if you can find it.

Most people aren’t exactly sure what it is that they want, but they are positive that whatever it is, they don’t have it. I know what I want out of life- the perfect pen. There are many different types of pens, and there are also many problems with pens. Perhaps this says more about me then anything else, but one of my main goals in life is to use an entire pen without something happening to it first.

Pens disappear. I know this for sure because I have been on both sides of the deal. In fact, the pen I am using right now is not mine, but my roommate’s. One day I was late for class (correction: I am always late for class, so on one of the days…) and as I scrambled through the jungle of my dorm room for a writing utensil I noticed a single pen lying harmlessly on my roommate’s desk. He was gone, and the pen had “steal me” written all over it.

Pressed for time, I grabbed it and went to class. This is one of the best pens I have ever used. I hope this one doesn’t disappear or break like all the others, but I have faith that it will. One day I came home from work and there was a pen lying on my bed. A classic Bic Stic¨. I don’t know how it got there; it definitely wasn’t there while I was sleeping the night before. I firmly believe that a pen fairy, although she is less publicized than the tooth fairy, exists. This pen fairy snatches pens up like a tornado from the earth’s surface and returns them to a new location, up to thousands of miles away. A classic episode of Ren & Stimpy takes the viewer to a hill of missing socks. I believe there is a huge pile of pens somewhere, maybe in the middle of Nebraska. Maybe Beavis and Butthead will find it. That would be cool.

From ball-point to felt pens to those “uniball” pens, there are many different species to the ink genus. I am all for stamping out racism, but when it comes to pen selection, I admit that I am “pen-ist.” Ball-point pens are nice, but the “uniball” pens are the best. Ideas flow like, well, ink to paper.

The main problem with these trackball pens is that the ink takes forever to dry. I am left-handed, and writing quickly involves putting a fresh coat of smudged ink on my left pinkie and ring fingers. While I wouldn’t give up being left-handed for anything, it can create problems in the writing department.

When I was 14, I visited the CSUH campus (no, there was no parking then, either). I went to the bookstore, and for 79¢ I bought a green CSUH pen. The pen was my pride and joy. For over a year I carried my prized possession around my high school, and set several personal records for pen possession in the process. I even amazed myself. I started to think that using all the ink in the pen would be the ultimate achievement. Three hundred ninety-six days after I bought the pen (the record still stands today), disaster struck in English class. During an in-class-essay, I decided that, after making a valid point, an exclamation point was necessary. I inferred that the dot under the vertical line which makes exclamation points so vital to our everyday lifestyle needed extra emphasis. I figured a dent in the page would have to be created to emphasize my point, so, lifting my pen to the sky, I slammed my green CSUH pen to the desk with all my might. The room was alive first with the sound: pop-goosh!, an expletive and then major laughter from all in the room except me. There sure was a lot of ink left in that pen, and now it was all over my hands and my brand new 49er T-Shirt (d’oh!!). True story. My English teacher gave me an “ink-complete.”

(Writers’s note: I am unable to finish this commentary due to the fact that I have lost all of my pens. I regret this inconvenience. My email address is, jughead@inferno.com for anyone who has any comments, ideas or questions.)