Today I sit down with our Illuminati insider, Carter!
How are you?
I feel like responding with “surviving” is a bit cliche, but that’s how it’s starting to feel. Being confined to home has made me extra anxious, so I’ve been trying to keep busy with other things - you should see how the upgrades to my living room are coming along. The serotonin hit that’ll happen when I finally get to see my friends again might make my brain explode.
What’s your quick bio?
I am the unholy offspring of a Tulane alum and an LSU alum, born in Shreveport (yes, that one) but raised in Dallas, TX (technically University Park). Matthew Stafford led my high school to a state championship my junior year - I transitioned from cheering him on every play to wishing for his humiliating defeat rather quickly. I moved to Atlanta to attend Tech and never left. I bought a house in Home Park almost three years ago after spending the previous four years living just OTP, and I work in supply chain software development for, uh, a large home improvement retailer.
What did you do while you were at Tech?
I think a lot of people would be surprised to learn I joined a social fraternity and remained pretty active in it up until my final semester. Much more influential, though, was the time I spent playing piccolo in the marching and pep bands, a total of five falls and four springs. I got to see a victory in Athens, Dabo Swinney’s coaching debut (and subsequently, first loss), Tech’s first win in Tallahassee, an Orange Bowl, a court storming for women’s basketball, and I even got to spend a New Year’s Eve in El Paso, among so many other cherished memories. I tailgate every home game with several fellow band alums, and I still believe the best seats in Bobby Dodd are right behind the goalposts in the north endzone. In between all of that, and a summer abroad in Barcelona, I somehow managed to earn a BS in computer science with a 3.0 GPA. Was that buoyed by 14 total credit hours of As from all the band classes I registered for? Perhaps.
How did you get to FTRS?
I wrote the first print edition of the Duff’d It! Rankings as a fan post after week 1 of the 2013 football season, a tribute to the departed Shutdown Fullback video series. Joey was in charge of the site at the time, and after putting it on the front page, asked if I wanted to join the staff. It’s the second biggest mistake he’s ever made, after moving to Houston.
What do you normally write about?
I wrote the Duff’d It! Rankings for five years, and I’d be lying if I said I don’t still get that itch. I’ve also been writing the Illuminati Picks since 2014. (They really do control everything.)
Favorite Tech sports moment?
Lots to pick from, but I’ll go with the 2009 football game vs. Virginia Tech. That was the first time the goalposts at Bobby Dodd had been torn down in a long time, and might have been the last time it’s ever allowed to happen. It’s also the last time the band played a postgame concert to a field full of fans. The rumor I heard was athletics saw this as egging on a bunch of rowdy fans and asked the band to never do it again. The band has always maintained that continuing to play kept the fans contained until they calmed down a bit.
Well normally I’m expecting a cliche one, so this is refreshing! Got any others?
I’m going to take you all on a magical trip through time, back to the year 2008. It’s Thursday night, and Georgia Tech is playing Miami. The first white-out game! “Put On” by Young Jeezy is a very popular song that had just been released that summer. Band director Chris Moore finished an arrangement of the song just in time for the band to debut it at this game. The first time the band plays it is early in the first quarter, and I notice something I’d never seen before: the students are into it, sure, but so are the players. Not just the players on the sideline, but the ones on the field, setting up to kick off. Being in band and telling yourself the band helps create the gameday atmosphere is one thing, but to see it for myself and realize that, “this is real, we really are creating this and everyone is feeding off it”, was a really cool moment.
Note from Chris: Put On being played by the band in Bobby Dodd is one of my favorite things. I can sit in a quiet room and vividly hear it in my head.
Favorite non-Tech sports moment?
In summer of 2011 I watched Dirk Nowitzki lead a ragtag bunch of misfits known as the Dallas Mavericks to:
- knock off Portland after blowing a 23 point lead to let the Trail Blazers tie the series at 2
- sweep the Lakers and usher Phil Jackson into retirement with a 36 point loss
- demolish a red-hot OKC in five games after staking a massive OT comeback win in game 4, and
- knock off Miami in the first year of the super-Heat era in a Finals rematch five years in the making
to win the NBA championship. That team came from nowhere and dissolved just as quickly, but flags fly forever. Nowitzki may be German born, but he’s the greatest Dallasite ever.
Favorite piece you’ve written for FTRS?
My pieces are like my children, in the way that I’ll say they’re all my favorite but I’m lying. No, I’m actually extremely self-critical of my own work and almost never read what I wrote once it’s published without giving it a couple years’ distance. So, with that said, let’s see here…. There was the time I discovered the true meaning of Tech’s Orange Bowl rings. Finally, there is the Top Ten of the Last Ten, a labor of love that took hours of film study and spawned I don’t know how many thousands of words of retrospective on the best games of the Paul Johnson era.
Favorite off-the-beaten-path Atlanta restaurant (i.e. not one of the typical ones everyone talks about)?
Hmm, off the beaten path….. There’s a place in Decatur called Arepa Mia I happened upon a few years back and fell in love with immediately. Arepas are a Venezuelan dish - basically a big stuffed corn cake. Get the Asado Negro and thank me later.
One more that I just remembered: Just off Windward Parkway in Alpharetta is a sandwich shop called Wildflour. Their sandwiches are fantastic, and eating there was the only highlight of the mercifully brief time I had a (terrible) job up there. (I was going to nominate Wright’s Gourmet Sandwich Shoppe in this space, but it turns out they closed shop a year ago and I somehow never knew. If you never got the Beef Martini sandwich there, you missed out.)
What kind of media are you into (music, tv, movies, books, podcasts, etc.)?
Music: I got really into electropop/synthpop a few years back, listening to bands like CHVRCHES, the xx, Phantogram, Purity Ring, Walk the Moon, and Hatchie. I’m also a big fan of newer, lo-fi rock bands like Cloud Nothings and Japandroids, and I’m an unabashed lover of 90s rock and 90s ska. I’ve also seen Nine Inch Nails live….. Six? Six times.
TV: 30 Rock is some seriously great television, and probably my favorite televised comedy. Star Trek: TNG is also good, but skip most of season 1. On Netflix, Luke Cage was my favorite of all the Marvel series, and the Mandalorian on Disney+ is worth all the praise it’s been getting. Oh, and M*A*S*H is a classic, especially the later seasons.
Movies: I don’t watch nearly as many movies as I used to…. Which still wasn’t a whole lot. Big fan of the Daniel Craig-era Bond films. Knives Out was great. Children of Men is one that’s always stuck with me.
Video games: I recently got a PS4 to catch up on all the killer Sony exclusives I’ve missed the past couple of generations. Spider-Man and God of War were excellent and I’m now taking suggestions for the next game (after Horizon: Zero Dawn). I love Metroidvania games, from the Metroid and Castlevania series (obviously) to newer, indie hits like Axiom Verge and Hollow Knight. I replay the Half-Life games every few years, though I probably won’t be getting Alyx any time soon. I dutifully pick up every new Mario and Zelda game - Odyssey and Twilight Princess are my favorites of those respective series. And I’m an unashamed Sonic the Hedgehog fan from back when the series started. Yes, there was a dark period in the mid-00s, but Sonic Mania made everything worth it. Shadow of the Colossus is my favorite under the radar gem from yesteryear.
What do you do when you aren’t watching sports?
Probably chasing down some new beer I haven’t had yet. (My favorite brewery around town is Three Taverns, if anyone is wondering.) I also love to travel and occasionally spend way too much time planning future vacations. (Or maybe just taking a spontaneous trip to Asheville.) You can also find me at your local DragonCon every Labor Day weekend!
During quarantine I’ve been keeping busy going through my backlog of video games. Oh, and I’m also busy right now planning my wedding for next year.
What’s your go-to icebreaker “fun fact”?
I have perfect pitch, which means I can identify a musical note simply by hearing it. It made memorizing my music very easy, and I could replay some of our older show songs even though they’re all from years ago. I used to be able to accurately tune without the need of a tuner, but I’ve started to notice as I’m getting older things are starting to sound a little sharp.
Do you have a rivalry with any of the other writers?
Don’t start nothin’, won’t be nothin’.
So what’s with the bee picture on your Twitter and Slack?
The bee picture came about following the 2012 football game vs. Middle Tennessee State. I took to Google, image searched “I’m a bee mother[Fatboy Slim]”, and that was the first result. That was eight years ago and I still use it as an avatar for just about everything. It’s also really easy to edit to be appropriate for whatever the current occasion is.
Always remember that the real Duff’d It! is the one inside your heart.