Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Maybe it's just me...

Maybe it's just me, but I have a hard time getting worked up over how someone uses their email account. Just like, I had a hard time getting too pissed off over a guy lying because he slept with someone who wasn't his wife. Are those things problematic on some level? Certainly. Do they call into question the honesty of the people involved? To some extent. However, I know that I have sent personal emails from work and vice versa. I may have even checked my Facebook, etc. from my work computer! *gasp!* In my life, I have left information out or over-parsed words to avoid responsibility for my own errors and misbehavior. I'm not proud of these things, but they don't disqualify me from my job.

On the other hand, calling on all Americans to hate an entire religious group; making disparaging remarks about women, Muslims, Hispanics, Jews, and the disabled; encouraging torture of an even more heinous variety than what we have seen criticized over the past decade; and focusing on the pursuit of monetary gain above all else, even when it hurts others would seem to disqualify a person. If I did most of those things, I would no longer have a job. But some people are so focused on avenging a political loss from 24 years ago, they are willing to overlook the evil Racist Cheeto candidate in order to punish the Clintons for winning the 1992 election, and for reminding America that the Reagan years weren't really as super-amazing as the right wingers would have us all believe. It seems like there is an "Anyone But the Clintons" camp who are angry that they can't convince the rest of the world that the Clintons are dirty rotten scoundrels and would rather drive the country off a cliff than let the 1992 election recede into history.

But maybe that's just me.

Monday, June 20, 2016

You mad, bro?

I haven't spent much time talking about the election recently. I won't convince any of the supporters of the GOP's presumptive nominee that they are wrong, as they obviously are. And the Democratic nomination is wrapped up as well, leaving only one possible option for those of us who would like to see our country maintain its freedoms, successes, and place in the world. 

I can't believe, however, that some of my fellow Bernie supporters are seriously arguing that Hillary is just as bad as Trump. (Actually, I don't think that they are serious. I think they are pissed off.) I have never believed in a candidate's message more than I believe in Senator Sanders' message. However, I also know that Sec. Clinton (or a handful of dryer lint) would be a VASTLY better choice than the Racist Cheeto. As the Huffington Post always reminds us, the GOP nominee "regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S."

Only once in my voting life (in 2008) have I supported a candidate in the primaries who wound up winning the nomination. Typically, I have come around to vote for the candidate I believed would do the better job, or at least would not destroy the country. There are times to cast a protest vote, and I have done so in the past; this is not one of those times. There is too much to lose as a nation if the Fascist Pumpkin Spice Latte gets elected. I only hope that my fellow Bernie fans will come around before it's too late.

Thanks for reading. I'll try to do better next time.

Friday, January 22, 2016

You belong to the night...

I'm not used to writing this often, and I wish I didn't have to now. Last week I wrote about Alan Rickman and David Bowie. Today I turn to two other losses from the last few days that hit even closer to home. Both of these gentlemen passed away on Sunday and I heard the news of their passing within minutes of each other on Monday evening; it was not a good night.

The Eagles are one of my favorite bands and Glenn Frey was an irreplaceable part of that group. He was also difficult and unreasonably demanding. And I loved his music.  "Miami Vice" was a touchstone for my generation and the songs of Glenn Frey's that were featured prominently in the show ("Smuggler's Blues" and "You Belong to the City") are two of my favorite '80s songs. Somehow singing along made the 13 year old version of me feel very cool. "The Heat is On" from "Beverly Hills Cop" is a staple of '80s oldies radio. Glenn Frey's solo career provided some high points in the soundtrack of my youth, but the Eagles were much more important. It is fashionable to trash the Eagles music. They embodied the excesses of '70s and '80s rock stars and rich people. They also happened to have some amazing music. While I readily admit that the Eagles didn't break the kind of ground that David Bowie did, I am more likely to sit down and listen to an Eagles album than I am to listen to any of Bowie's albums.  I might never have become a singer if it weren't for the Eagles. My earliest memories of music are of my dad and my Uncle Ray singing together. The songs that stick in my head from all those years ago are songs by the Eagles (even though they didn't do very many Eagles songs together) and Simon and Garfunkel. When I started playing drums in bar bands, the Eagles were a staple. The first harmonies I learned were in songs by the Eagles and the Doobie Brothers. When I started singing lead vocals, Eagles songs were some of my first solos. I love that band, even though it isn't cool. I have Eagles bootlegs from the end of their first run. I am sad I never got to see them in person.

The other gentleman is not someone you have heard of, in all likelihood. Terry Davis was a social studies teacher at Flagstaff High School from 1969-2004. When I was first hired at FHS, Mr. Davis and I shared a terribly thin wall. He was gracious and tolerant of a new teacher with classes filled with rowdy resource students. Gradually, I got better, my classes got quieter, and Mr. Davis welcomed me into the history department when I was transferred in-building in the middle of the year. He was the first person I turned to with questions about policies and procedures, etc. He also gave me advice on buying a house and putting family first. He sat around and drank coffee with me and shot the breeze. He was a consistent voice for the kids who fell through the cracks. Terry was my friend, a mentor, and a wonderful man. When he retired, I got his room. I have taught in room 718 for 12 years and, even though I may be at FHS for another 15 years, it will always be Mr. Davis's room. I loved seeing him around town with Mrs. Davis after they retired, and I will miss him very much.

Thanks for letting me share my memories and thanks for reading. I'll try to do better next time.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Ashes to Ashes

Monday morning the world woke up to news that we had lost David Bowie, a true genius. I admit that I have never been a gigantic Bowie fan, but I enjoy much of his music and I certainly recognize his importance as an innovator and trendsetter. My most indelible memory of him was as The Goblin King in "Labyrinth," which I saw in Canton, MIchigan with my cool Uncle Nelson, still one of my favorite people. My lasting impressions of the movie were 1) I was in love with Jennifer Connelly, and 2) David Bowie was the coolest guy on the planet, even when he creeped me out. I was saddened at what we lost as a culture.

This morning I heard the news that another 69-year-old Brit had passed away. My first memory of Alan Rickman is the same as almost everyone else's: "yippee ky-ay..." Alan Rickman in "Die Hard" was a classic 80s action movie baddie and I hated/loved him. Another bad guy role I loved was the Sheriff of Nottingham in that otherwise terrible Kevin Costner movie. He was wonderful as Eamon de Valera in "Michael Collins," a movie I loved but not many others saw. But the reason I shed tears when I found out about Mr. Rickman's passing was his role as Severus Snape. It is no secret that I love the Harry Potter books and Snape is the best character in the books. I loved the way he was written and completely drawn in by Rickman's performance. I am so sad that I won't get to see him in anything else. Even his interviews were wonderful.

Nothing particularly inspirational to say about all this. Cancer sucks and I am sorry that we have been cheated out of whatever else these two talented gentlemen might have produced. I'll listen to Bowie and smile, watch Snape die and cry, and be glad we got the chance to share those moments.

Thanks for reading. I'll try to do better next time.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

The way I am

This is not an apology. I cannot and will not apologize for the things I am about to say. It is, however, an explanation. If you disagree, fine. I don't need to hear about it. I'm probably in the minority, and that's fine. I am also thoroughly convinced that I am right.

I hate guns. I have had a distaste and fear of them since I was 7 years old. My uncle was shot during the commission of a crime. It wasn't life-threatening, but it affected him for the rest of his life. A number of other gun-involved events, including some with fatal outcomes, continued to happen throughout my youth. I wasn't conscious of the impact guns were having on me, but it is clear to me that they were indeed having an impact.

In my adult life, gun violence has disrupted my comfort and sanity for years. My sleep is often interrupted when images of the carnage and devastation caused by the weapons creep into my consciousness. One of the reasons I left a job early in my career was that I dreamed about being shot on a nearly nightly basis, and I couldn't find a way to deal with it. I now deal with anxiety and periodic panic attacks, both of which can be caused by the daily drumbeat of gun violence in our tragically gun-obsessed society.

Guns are different from other tools. Guns have one and only one purpose: guns kill/murder. That's it. You can't use a gun to build a house. You can't use a gun to make a sandwich. You can't use a gun to fix a road. Guns kill. Period. If you have a gun, you have it with the purpose of killing someone or something. (Don't argue that you can competition shoot with guns. A few hundred people in the whole country actually do that and only that with guns. That's a b.s. argument and you know it.) Guns have daily utility only if you provide all of your food by hunting. I have eaten lots of game from hunters, but I have never known anyone who provided for themselves and their family exclusively through hunting as people did several hundred years ago. Again, no reason to have a gun here.

Many anti-gun people say they don't want to take away guns. I do. Get rid of them all. That way, if you have one, you are breaking the law and you should pay a penalty. Keep doing it and you should get locked up, because your obsession with being able to kill stuff is unhealthy and dangerous. If we could do that, it would be so easy to see the bad guys. If you aren't in the military or a police officer and you have a gun, you're the bad guy. Easy peasy. "If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns." Exactly. Arrest the people who have one. Problem solved.

If you live near me and have a gun, you are making me and my family less safe. The only reason to have a gun is to kill, and if you have one, I am a potential target. I don't believe that there are people who own guns, but would never use them. If that's true, you don't need one. You just like to play with them, and that's dangerous. (I've done it too. Guns can be a lot of fun. So is Yahtzee. Do that instead.) Private citizens don't ever stop these shootings with their own guns. And if a private citizen starts shooting in such a situation, it is very likely to make the situation even worse. You don't need a gun; you want a gun, and that's very different. I want to not get killed. That's me living versus you having a cool toy. I think my concern wins.

I'm not arguing here. I will never ever think guns are a good idea. I'm just explaining why they are such a bad idea. I have heard all the pro-gun propaganda and it doesn't sway me. Like, at all. I don't need you to rehash them. I probably won't even read them. Like this or don't, but it's just an explanation. If you really love your guns more than other people's lives, I'm not going to convince you with this post. Just delete it, ignore it, or whatever and move on. It's fine. You aren't that worried about my life anyway.

Friday, November 27, 2015

His ego is huuge...

Buy low, sell high
You get rich and you still die
Money talks, people jump
Ask how high, low-life Donald what's-his-name
And who cares?
I don't wanna know what his girlfriend doesn't wear
Its a shame that the people at work
Wanna hear about this kind of jerk
-John Gorka, "Where the Bottles Break" 1990

I want to be clear on this occasion that my opposition to Donald Trump is almost entirely about him as a person and not about his policy ideas. I can be as partisan as anyone, so I have opposed other Republican candidates on policy grounds, including John McCain, who I admire very much as a human being. I just happen to think he is wrong on nearly every possible political issue. In the case of "The Donald," he is a horrible person. He has no policy positions aside from tricking Mexico into building a giant wall between the countries. He is a bully and an arrogant piece of trash who mocks people for disabilities, gender, race, and anything else he can think of. He is everything that is wrong with the country. I am pleased to see that people are turning against him. I only hope it continues and he crawls back into the slime he came from.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

To love another person is to see the face of God

Today I got to see my oldest son perform on stage as Javert for the last time. The performances were wonderful and I really couldn't be more proud of him and the whole cast. It was remarkable as a work of art, but it resonated with me for a whole different reason.

I remember many years ago an occasion that has always stuck with me, but I never really understood it until now. When I was playing in bands with my dad when I was in high school, I was the second (and sometimes third) best vocalist in the band. I was starting to come into my own, but I wasn't quite there. Then we played at a benefit concert and I felt like I had arrived. An old friend of my dad's told him, "you aren't the best singer in the band anymore." I didn't agree, and I still don't, but my dad said he did and he was happier to hear that than if his friend had told him he was still the best. I couldn't understand that. I thought he was just agreeing to make me feel good about myself. When Dermot walked on stage and began to sing his first lines: "Bring me prisoner 24601! Your time is up and your parole's begun!" I choked up and my eyes filled with tears, even at this unsentimental opening scene. This beautiful young man was Inspector Javert and he occupied the stage in a way I never could have. And I was bursting. I cried every time he took the stage that first night. (And a whole bunch of other times, because "Les Miserables.") I finally understood my dad's reaction. I was happier with his triumph than I ever was with one of my own.

So thank you to everyone who made it possible. Thank you to Theatrikos and Theatrikids. Thank you to the directors, Joe and Kennlyn. You brought Javert out of him.

Thank you to the cast for welcoming him and giving this young man so much happiness. You are his world right now and I couldn't pick a better group of people. 

Thank you to his SMS friends in the cast. You will be his link to this show in the coming days.

Thank you to his onstage foils for making the show so wonderful. Thank you to those of you who have become close to him and made him one of your own. I am inspired by your kindness and love for my son. 

Thank you to the members of the cast who are moving on and have finished your final Theatrikids show. Your contributions will live in the performances Dermot will undertake going forward. 

Thank you to the cast of "Our Town" who first made him feel welcome at the Doris Harper White Playhouse. It is his new home away from home, as it is for so many of you.

I could not be more proud of my son tonight. I think all of us who were there were very lucky. The songs of the show speak of being selfless and helping others and focusing on each person's humanity.  It was nice to be reminded of that through those songs, but it was even more powerful for me to see it in action in so many large and small ways. Again, I thank you.

Thanks for reading. I'll try to do better next time.