The Eroticism of ‘No’


Written by Brendan O’Meara

When I need a dose of motivation, I watch Don Draper in action. When a fire lights under his ass look at how he burns.

At the beginning of this scene, Don enters Roger’s office and grabs a drink right away. Even Roger is taken by this “drinking with a purpose”. Don doesn’t want piddly business, he wants big fish. Screw bagging a few marlin; he wants Moby freakin’ Dick.

Don laments how his letter denouncing Lucky Strike has effected his mojo with potential clients. Rogers throws it right back at him, “You used to love no. No used to make you hard.” He goes on and I do hope you watch the entire 5:20. After all, it’s what we do.


All we are are salesmen. We are always on the clock.

All publishers, magazines, newspapers, are are customers/clients looking to benefit/profit from our services. At every turn you need to give them reasons to say yes, of course, but you need them to question why on earth they would even consider saying no.

Now, imagine you go into a meeting, or a phone pitch, with any editor and you pitch cold the way Don does in this scene? Can you imagine facing rejection? Can you imagine the gall should they say no?

So. Go on. Say no. I want you to say no in my face so hard that spittle gets on my sunglasses. I also want you see the face of doubt in your own reflection.

Because ‘no’ … ‘no’ is one step closer to yes.

Have a great week, I’m on the road.


Hashtag #CNF Episode 2—Author/Nonfiction Editor Tom McAllister

Written by Brendan O’Meara

If you thought Hashtag #CNF was just a one-and-done kind of podcast, you’ve got another thing coming. I’m at least giving this thing a shot at a sophomore slump. Suckers.

To quote Ren from Ren and Stimpy, “Hark! Hark!” I’ve got a fun one for you today, and every day, so long as you click play.

Let’s face it, it had to be since author and Barrelhouse nonfiction editor Tom McAllister joined me to talk about Bring the Noise: The Best Pop Culture Essays from Barrelhouse Magazine.

McAllister is the author of Bury Me in My Jersey: A Memoir of My Father, Football, and Philly. He is also a professor of creative writing at Temple University and, most recently, is the editor of Bring the Noise. As McAllister riffs in his hilarious introduction, BTN is a treatise “on the the stupid things we love”. Yes, there’s the stupid things we love, but BTN shows how beautiful these stupid things are when in the hands of seventeen artful storytellers whose personal stories elevate popular culture to the adult table.

In it you’ll find professional wrestling, roller derby, Barry Bonds, stalking Aaron Grenier, and the “never-ending reality of The Hills” and, in true Barrelhouse style, the Patrick Swayze question.

I allowed myself one book purchase at AWP Boston. This was it. Best $15 I spent all weekend.
I allowed myself one book purchase at AWP Boston. This was it. Best $15 I spent all weekend.

Coffee with Canines

SmartyWritten by Brendan O’Meara

Sometimes when you post annoying pictures to Facebook, you annoy your friends. Other times you get an invite from a blogger to talk about your dogs. I tend to post pictures of donuts and dogs. I was interviewed for a blog called Coffee with a Canine. I talked about Smarty (pictured above) and Jack.

Here’s the link. Enjoy!

Michael Lewis and the Beauty of the Narrative Expansion


Written by Brendan O’Meara

I finished The Blind Side by Michael Lewis. I was worried the book would be too much like the movie (which I haven’t seen, but the previews were enough for me to avoid it), that it would be all about Leigh-Anne Tuoly and her savior mentality for rescuing Michael Oher from poverty and propelled him to the heights of the NFL.

The original cover, devoid of Sandra Bullock, the way it ought to be.
The original cover, devoid of Sandra Bullock, the way it ought to be.

The book uses Oher as a vehicle to tell the story of the book’s subtitle: Evolution of a Game. The book’s opening chapter is its highlight: a several-page breakdown of a single play. One single play. Most of you have seen it. I have not and will not for fear of vomiting on my keyboard. The scene is when Lawrence Taylor, a linebacker for the New York Giants, tackled Joe Theisman, quarterback for the Washington Redskins, and compound fractured Theisman’s tibia and ended his career.

Taylor blitzed off his right side, a right-handed quarterback’s blind side. He terrorized quarterbacks and in the Darwinian evolution of football’s offensive line, put a selective pressure on the line to change. Namely, the left tackle.

Lewis masterfully crafts what is essentially a magazine piece around this one play that changed the game of football. One play. He builds a story around this with the players and coaches involved.

This can happen anywhere. The story of one hit, one run, one drive (several plays), an orange, etc. The beauty of nonfiction lies in the power of narrative expansion, to be able to lift what seems on its surface to be a mundane happenstance to a truly compelling story.

All it takes is a hunger and to be one helluva reporter.