Blog: Chimes columnist joins the picket lines


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Browning refuses to write out a message on his “picket sign” because he is abstaining from writing.

Strike, Day 5: Michael Farr, Hair Cuts, and Whitney: A Strike in Review

11/22/07 6:38 p.m.

Attention, I have an announcement to make; the strike is officially over. Actually it’s been over since Tuesday, although I’m afraid that this was too late for many of the writers who were joining me in solidarity to write anything for the Chimes. That’s why it was such a small edition. Actually, I’m kidding about the other writers going on strike, I’m not even sure that the other writers even knew there was a strike going. Except for Michael Farr (, who in addition to being well read (i.e. my blog) is an excellent writer, devastatingly handsome, and is also single. I think that someone should create a profile of him on Yahoo! Personals.

Anyways, back to the topic at hand. There is no real way to measure how big of an economic impact my strike had on Biola University and on the nation as a whole, but you probably won’t be seeing any new building projects going up over interterm. Fortunately, all of that is behind us now and our country can begin the long task of healing. Many of you are probably wondering how the strike turned out. Well I’ll tell you… right after we recap what all happened during the 5 or 6 days that the strike took place.

Day 0 – I got a hair cut, which some might say was foreshadowing of what was to come. Others would say that it was long over due and I looked like a hippie before.

Day 1 Thursday- I went on strike. This involved me stealing some doughnuts and a sign so that I didn’t break my own strike against writing. Then I wrote about it online. Also I was able to remove the profile that my roommate had put up of me on Yahoo! Personals. Unfortunately, it was probably too late to prevent a few hearts from breaking (see Day 0).

Day 2 Friday- I had to go to work on Friday, but I continue to picket there on my lunch break. I then wrote about it online. Also I posted a picture of me in my scrubs. Nothing like a little eye candy to keep the readership happy.

Day 3 Saturday/Sunday- I published a completely unbiased interview with my editors who were gracious enough to share their side of the strike. During this interview the editors also decided to grant me the 8% of the, apparently, non-existent online revenue. This was a huge ideological victory, which until my college loans come due, is the most important kind of victory.

Day 4 Monday- I got pretty bored, ate some lousy brownies, and wrote a song about the strike and the brownies. It was a pretty big hit, although that’s probably because nobody actually heard me sing it. My mom once told me not to sing past everyone else at church. After writing the article, two supporters came to my room and brought me a chai latte showing their solidarity. They are also single, I wonder if either of them has met Michael Farr.

Day 5 Tuesday- Early in the day Jenna sent me an email. In that email she said, “I will meet your demands of a Starbucks Chai Latte. The week after Thanksgiving, remind me and I will buy you one.” This prompted the end of the strike. Also I quit writing online until now.

So the strike is over and I get a chai. And that is why I am thankful for Jenna Bartlo. I am especially thankful for the others who supported me. During my strike I received several emails, high fives, a chai latte, cheesecake, and two poems/notes about how guys are fish/lame (respectively) dedicated to me. Overall it was probably the best strike I ever struck. But I did learn a few lessons. First of all, not every girl prefers short hair. Secondly, that my sister actually made 3 of the 5 comments on this post. I don’t know what it means but it means something. And lastly, I learned that if you listen to Whitney Houston while writing a blog, that it turns out to be not very funny because you keep trying to sing along and write at the same time. Can’t be done.

Strike, Day 4: Striking Out

11/19/07 11:00 p.m.

So I’ve been on strike since last Thursday and it feels like it’s been nearly a week now. When I read about strikes I always thought that they were action packed. When you hear the word strike, you think about lightning and bowling. But as it turns out, it is more like strike in the baseball sense of the word, which is to say, a whole lot of nothing.

I’m not giving up, though. I’m willing to get bored with this strike if it means a chai latte. But it got pretty bad in there. I was hoping for something great to happen that would make this an amazing blog. Something like a meteorite crashing through the roof of the chimes, a meteorite filled with vanilla chai. Unfortunately the most exciting thing that happened would be how I got to test the battery on the motorized wheelchair at the pharmacy where I work.

I was going to write a column based upon what my roommates thought about the strike but apparently class is more important. That’s ok because he’s dead to me now. So then I was forced to sit around and watch the Simpsons while talking on the phone with my sister in Ohio until she got bored with me. After that I threw away all the brownies that somebody gave us. The reason I had to do this was because these were the kind of brownies that you can buy on sale at Albertsons but when you eat one it reminds you of the time that your brother gave you a dog biscuit and told you it was a Christmas cookie. Well normally they sit around until they’ve slowly dissipated contributing to that semi-solid atmosphere L.A. is famous for. That’s why you never see a brownie truck in the carpool/low emissions lane.

Anyways the reason that I threw them away is because I started getting that bored kind of hungry. You know the restlessness that I’m talking about, the one where you eat everything that’s sitting around even though you’re not hungry at all. I blame the abundance of leisure time in America for the existence of both candy corn and circus peanuts.

Anyways, what I’m trying to say is that I was so bored that I wrote a song about the strike. It goes like this:

Hey baby, hey baby, I’m on strike,

And there’s not much going on

I ate those brownies I don’t like,

I’m still bored and they’re all gone.

Hey baby, hey baby, this is it

Tonight is definitely the night

I’m on strike until I get a hit

Not going down without a fight

Chorus: I’m a really nice guy

Woah Yeah

I just want a little chai

Woah Yeah

So c’mon Jenna just this time

I won’t ask for another dime

Everybody wants you to

How can you say no to my new hair doo bee doo wop de dooo

Strike, Day 3: Interview with the Editors

11/18/07 11:38 p.m.

Well, the blog has been going well, but today I decided to take off my blogging hat and put on my investigative reporting cap. This was a necessary change because the biased liberal media on campus was dropping the ball in not covering my strike. So in order to provide a fair and unbiased report on the standoff I decided to interview Jenna Bartlo, Chimes editor-in-chief, and Michelle Rindels, Web editor. I asked them the hard hitting questions and didn’t let them get away with evasive answers. I will provide excerpts from the interview which has been abridged due to a lack of space.

James: Before I begin, I would like to hear your opinions on the strike.

Michelle: I think it’s an over blown publicity stunt. James’ demands are too extreme. Starbucks awards need to be fair, but they should only be for the editors and not the writers.

Jenna: I think it was a good idea, but has faulty logic. The Chimes and the Chimes Online aren’t two separate things

James: When do you think that the strike will be over?

Michelle/Jenna: Tuesday

James: As members of the media, how do you respond to the accusations that you are portraying James in a negative light when in reality he is an innocent victim standing up to injustice?

Jenna: This is a slanderous question because it is implying that we are somehow taking advantage of James when in fact he is the one portraying us in a negative light.

James: How much money is the Chimes Online making?

Michelle: Actually the Chimes Online doesn’t make any money; rather, it is losing money.

James: So then you agree to give me 8%?

Michelle: Sure, I guess

James: Do you feel that my recent haircut played a role in this recent concession?

Jenna: We don’t discriminate on looks, but no. Actually long hair has an advantage here.

They then concluded by saying that the public needs to get involved by reading the Chimes Online. They said that my strike was “invalid.” Jenna Bartlo also felt the need to declare that the tally system was never designed as a way for her to impress the males on staff. Only girls have won, and girls are currently in the lead. If I want an incentive system, then I should talk to Kyle (the opinions editor who reports directly to Jenna).

If we are to analyze the preceding interview we will notice a few things. I would like to call your attention to the statement where Jenna accuses me of asking a slanderous question. First of all, this is published, which means that is actually libel. Secondly, she is slandering me on the basis of an alleged slander. It seems that The Establishment has resorted to mudslinging. I’m lucky she didn’t smack my mouth for asking such an investigative question.

Next, I would like to point out the concessions that were made. I got them to agree to the 8% of online revenue. Touchdown! Also Michelle mentioned that they now had guidelines for the Starbucks contest so that it is no longer arbitrary. This came as a direct result of the investigative report I released early on in this strike. So tomorrow I will return to my regular striking but this time, we will take it to the man on the street, or to be more precise, one of the men who live in my apartment.

Strike, Day 2: FAQ

11/16/07 11:16 p.m.

It is officially day 2 of my strike, and the picket line is starting to look a little haggard. The fact that not only am I a member of the James Browning Writers For the Chimes Guild of Southern California (JBWFCGSC), but I am the only member, is making me a little tired. This means that I have a harder time creating the dramatic media splash that better known unions seem to pull off. There might not be many of us, but by golly we stand unified.

But what really got me down was the fact that I had to get up early this morning to go to work. No, not to The Chimes. Don’t worry — I may be covering my own strike, but I’m not about to cross my own picket line just yet.

Apparently, this strike has had such a devastating economic impact on Southern California that I have been forced to go to my job, working at a pharmacy, today. Fortunately there was a sign there so that I could continue my picketing. There’s no telling how long this financial whirlpool could continue to spiral out of control, but I wouldn’t put any big purchases on your credit card if I were you.

Anyways, in the interest of fair and unbiased coverage of my strike I have decided to answer some frequently asked questions. This way the public can get a factual understanding of what is actually at stake in this under-publicized standoff.

Q. Why are you striking?

A. Good question. I am on strike because I am actually only paid per printed article. But now that The Chimes has a website, my content is being republished online without me seeing a dime. And since I live off of the residuals, that’s like taking food out of the school cafeteria. Additionally I am striking because Jenna, the editor-in-chief, occasionally gets Starbucks coffee for the editors, but never for the writers.

**Q. What are your demands?

A.** My demands are simple and realistic. I want 8 percent of the revenue that my online content brings in. Also I would like a grande chai latte with a shot of vanilla.

Q. If you are on a writer’s strike, then how can you be writing these blogs?

A. That is another good question. If you’ve been following the Writer’s Guild of America strike you will have noticed that several of the studios said that they weren’t concerned about it because they have been stockpiling episodes. Well, in the same way, I have been stockpiling these blogs in anticipation of this strike. Not only did I see it coming, but I also knew ahead of time that you were going to ask this question. I actually wrote this blog and answered your (at that time) unasked question. This blog was actually written some time last August.

Well that’s about all the space I have for today. But stay tuned because in the next couple of days I will be interviewing the opposition: Jenna Bartlo, the chief, and Michelle Rindels, the web editor. This way I can provide a balanced report of James’ Strike ’07!

Strike, Day 1: Reasonable and Good-Looking

11/15/07 10 p.m.

Today is day 1 of my strike, and things are going well. I have decided to use every weapon in my arsenal in order to put an end to this strike which could have a potentially devastating impact on the Los Angeles economy. First of all I am picketing. This is pretty much standard striking protocol. The difference is that since I am on a writing strike, I can’t write anything on my picket signs.

So in order to get around that, I stole a sign for a “Business as Missions” chapel for business majors. Hopefully when bystanders see me holding a sign that seems irrelevant they will read the obvious symbolism and realize that the sign represents my refusal to write another word until justice has been done. Then they will see how clever and deserving of a coffee I am. You might be concerned that whoever put the sign out will be a little upset when they find out that I removed it. Don’t worry about that because it was put out by my roommate who is president of the Business Investment Society and deserves it since he created a profile of me on Yahoo! Personals last week, a profile in which he listed my favorite food as “body chocolate.” Basically, he has it coming.

Secondly, I am certainly not above using a little sex appeal to achieve my goals. I will attempt to woo Jenna (the editor) until my demands are met. That is why I cut my hair and used my roommate’s cologne (he really deserves it; I had 17 responses from women over 46 whose body type is described as “portly”). So I’m hoping to go for a kind of sexual tension thing like Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks in “You’ve Got Mail.”

So here I am, picketing outside of The Chimes office located in the student union building. I had kind of figured that a few more celebrities would show up to offer their solidarity. Even though they didn’t, my other roommate did leave doughnuts on the counter that I can only assume were for me. If you see me around, stop and say hi, send me your questions/comments, and if you see Jenna tell her that you condemn her stance on the strike, and that I said that her hair looks nice today. Explanation of “The Browning Side” Strike

11/15/07 10 p.m.

As the Writer’s Guild of America strike continues on, mine is just getting started. For those of you who didn’t read my article in The Chimes, allow me to sum up. I need more money. Well that might be a little too concise, let’s unpack that a little. The writers who are going on strike around LA are striking because they aren’t getting paid for their online content. That means that every time you watch a show online or download a movie from iTunes, the studio makes money but not the writers. That sounds reasonable. So I thought, hey wait a minute, I don’t get paid for when my articles are posted online either… I should go on strike too! So that’s what I did.

But that’s not the only reason why I am going on strike. Last week, The Jenna Bartlo, the editor-in-chief at The Chimes, started a contest in which the editor that earned the most “tallies” would receive a free Starbucks coffee. On the surface this sounds like a nice little incentive to make sure that your content is in on time, but there is a darker motive swimming beneath the oily surface.

First of all, this contest is only open to the editors. As a writer, they need me for their content. I’m the one who is writing and sending it in on time. Secondly, the arbitrary nature of the awards leads me to assume that this whole idea is actually just a clever ploy for Jenna to beat the competition when it comes to gaining favor with the males who work for The Chimes. “When there are only 2 guys and about 78 girls, a little coffee and high heels go a long way” seems to be the chief’s philosophy.

Now I understand the guy-girl ratio at Biola University is a little skewed. But that’s no reason to treat your writers like a used Kleenex stuck to the bottom of your shoe. That is why I am demanding some Starbucks for my online content. Specifically, I am asking for a grande chai latte with a shot of vanilla for a semester of work. I think that’s pretty reasonable as well. But when I spoke with the editor-in-chief about it, she brushed me off with a “we’ll see.”

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