Since 1984, Bob McGinn has covered the Green Bay Packers. First for the Green Bay Press-Gazette, then for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
I’ve been reading Bob’s work regularly since the Internet first gave me access to the Journal-Sentinel. His articles and columns are among the very best sportswriting you’ll ever read. Heck, they’re among the very best writing, period. His day-after-the-game stories are always the best, his in-depth game analyses later in the week are uniformly outstanding, and his NFL draft coverage is without equal.
Yesterday, the Journal-Sentinel announced that Bob’s retiring.
It hit me like a ton of bricks. Although we’ve never met, Bob’s like a member of the family. Dad and I had too many conversations to remember which began with something Bob wrote about the Packers. He was diligent, fair, tough, and knowledgeable. He was exactly what you want in a sportswriter.
To quote from the Journal-Sentinelarticle about his retirement, “In 2011, he was selected by the Pro Football Writers of America as recipient of the prestigious Dick McCann Award for long and distinguished reporting, placing him in the writers’ wing of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. In Wisconsin, he is a six-time winner of the Sportswriter of the Year award from the National Sports Media Association.”
In January, Sports Illustrated featured an in-depth profile of Bob, written by Greg Bishop. Reading that piece is a great way to understand why Bob was so revered by fans, players, and writers alike.
To Bob and his wife Ann, I offer my best wishes. Thank you for all of your work covering the Green Bay Packers, and thank you for your dedication to a job well done.
Jessica Zempel, a student at Wilmot High School in South Dakota, is the winner of the first annual James & Jeanne Arneson Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship is awarded to graduates of Wilmot High School who display an aptitude in creative writing by authoring a short story.
Jessica’s story, “Love, Lust, and Death,” was chosen as the winner by novelist Jon McGoran.
Set in Quedlinburg, Germany, “Love, Lust, and Death” is about a serial killer and a woman who falls in love with him and tries to reform him.
Earlier this month, Beth and I traveled to Wilmot to present Jessica with her $250 prize during Wilmot High School’s Academic Awards Program. The night before the program, we enjoyed a great dinner at Sodak Shores with Jessica, her parents, and her English teacher, Danielle DeGreef.
Jessica also received an autographed copy of Jon’s latest novel, the excellent DUST UP and an autographed copy of THUGLIT #16 featuring my short story “It Bothers Me,” set in Wilmot.
A special thanks to Wilmot High School principal Larry Hulscher for all of his assistance and to English teacher Danielle DeGreef for encouraging so many students to submit stories.
Just one new published story: “It Bothers Me,” published in the March/April 2015 of the great THUGLIT magazine (available for Kindle and in paperback). I’ll always be stoked to say one of my stories is in THUGLIT.
Scott Detrow — who, amazingly, just keeps getting better — voiced seven great short stories by the likes of Paul Brazill, Rob Hart, Merry Jones, Jon McGoran, Todd Robinson, Johnny Shaw, and Duane Swierczynski. Word Crimes also featured a fantastic story by S.W. Lauden, an interview with McGoran, and two episodes recorded live at NoirCon.
In December, we reached 5,000 total downloads, a number Scott and I are absolutely thrilled with. Thank you to everyone who’s listening!
If you’re not listening, check out Word Crimes on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. Here’s a sample to whet your appetite, Scott Detrow reading “Appetite” by Jon McGoran:
It’s ridiculously over-the-top, packed with action, and it features a one-armed Norwegian train conductor saving the U.S. from a Soviet nuclear attack in July 1947.
You can listen to “Death Train to Hell” here:
In the non-fiction realm, I was thrilled to write several true-crime essays for THE BLACK HOOD comic book (which itself is written by Duane Swierczynski and edited by Alex Segura). All the essays focused on Philadelphia, where the comic is set; they covered a tale of vast political corruption, a nearly unbelievable arsenic murder ring, and America’s first serial killer.
Seeing my work appear in comic books written by Duane, one of my absolute favorite writers, with art by the likes of Michael Gaydos and Howard Chaykin was amazing. Hopefully, it will happen again in 2016. (Actually, I know it will: Be sure to check out issue #8 of THE BLACK HOOD on January 13!)
Over at SHOTGUN HONEY, I continued serving as an editor up until 11:59 p.m. last night — although, truth be told, I spent much of 2015 leaning on my co-editors Jen Conley and Angel Colon, along with head honcho Ron Earl Phillips. I’ve been an editor at SH for more than two years, and it’s time to move on. The site is amazing, and I’m proud to call Ron, Jen and Angel (along with former co-editor Chris Irvin) my friends. Kent Gowran created a fantastic site, and Ron has taken it to new levels. Now that I’m out of the editing game, I’ll definitely be submitting to SH again.
All that said, the biggest — and, by far, the saddest — thing that happened to me personally in 2015 was losing my parents, Jim and Jeanne Arneson.
They were, no exaggeration, the greatest. Mom and Dad were unequivocally supportive of everything I tried, especially my writing. From the story I wrote in first grade about King Kong to the handwritten ATARI TIMES newsletter I published in fifth grade to working on my high school newspaper (THE OCTORARIAN) to writing for NOTEBORED magazine to my first published short story (“The Murder of Ernest Trapnell” in MARY HIGGINS CLARK MYSTERY MAGAZINE) to the last published short story before they passed away (“It Bothers Me” in THUGLIT), Mom and Dad were my biggest fans.
Hopefully this video gives a sense of how great they were.
Looking ahead to 2016, my one-word resolution is: WRITE.
Here’s an audio version of the short story Death Train to Hell, which features a one-armed Norwegian-American train conductor trying to save the United States of America from a surprise nuclear attack in the summer of 1947.
James Craig Arneson, 80, was called to Valhalla on April 24, 2015, far too early.
Jim, as he was known by his many friends, had a great sense of humor, an infectious smile, and an infinite love for his wife, his children, and his grandchildren. He was the best husband, the best father, and the best grandfather anyone could hope for.
Like his father Einar, who immigrated to the United States from Norway, and his grandfather Martinus, Jim loved and worked for the railroad. As a young man, he helped lay track for the Soo Line. Later, after serving in the Army and successful stints with companies such as Yardley of London, Kellogg’s, Chun King (a division of R.J. Reynolds), and Blue Bell / Wrangler, he worked as an accountant for Amtrak for many years, spending most of his time in the offices at Philadelphia’s beautiful 30th Street Station.
Born in Superior, Wisconsin, on August 18, 1934, Jim graduated from Superior Central High School and the University of Wisconsin. He was a lifelong fan of the Green Bay Packers and a part-owner of the team. He loved to read, especially detective novels and thrillers, and was always the best person to go to when you needed a crossword puzzle answer.
Jim is survived by his devoted wife of 46 years, Jeanne (nee Scoggins); three daughters, Robin Gattis, Sherri Arneson, and Lisa Williamson; a son, Erik Arneson; and five grandchildren, Linsey Wheeler, Craig Gattis, Payton Willamson, Keltie Williamson, and Kayden Williamson. They all miss him desperately but look forward to being reunited with him in heaven.
In lieu of flowers, please make a contribution to your local SPCA (Jim and Jeanne rescued many dogs through the years), St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, the Leukemia Foundation, or the charity of your choice.