Bring in the Clowns


I have had time to absorb both the RNC and DNC. Fact checkers can run amok about how close either side hit at least middle on the needle of truth. To be honest, from where I sit, both sides lauded some pretty large zingers which might have some possibility to fire up their respective bases yet fall flat on their face when the flash light of fact shows the smoke and reflects back in the many mirrors propping the whole thing up. It’s what they do and it is to be expected, from both sides.
President Clinton obviously carried both conventions by giving perhaps one of the greatest speeches I have ever personally witnessed. It was that darn good and probably pretty close to spot on with its obvious leanings into hyperbole, which too is to be expected.
Yet what is becoming more and more obvious is the rift which keeps heading towards chasm level within the GOP. I am not, by any means, lamenting this because frankly I think they have lost touch with reality for the common person. The Reagan mythology which so many of them love to cling too, were the man alive and attempting to steward the GOP, would fall flat on his face in the climate so many fringe lunatics, who now divide the party, have created and refuse to pull away from.
Interesting to me is how they have lulled the Tea Party into their demise. I could see it coming even back in 2009 when they were pulling the party too far off messages which relate to the common man. Mike Lofgren saw and sees this too. And just by chance you are not familiar with the man let me simply put it like this: this fellow is no lightweight in GOP circles. If he were a football icon Vince Lombardi would not be an unrealistic analogy.
Yet they persist on and will persist on until common sense prevails within their ranks. President Clinton very clearly pointed this out and spoke to one of the main reasons that the Obama administration has been stalemated and cut off at the pass so many times. Their unwillingness to compromise, on any issue, has lead us to where we are. President Clinton was able to reach across to the common sense leaders of the GOP in his days because statesmanship requires this of both sides in order to work effectively. This is not even in the game plan and it has hurt the GOP much more than they are willing to admit.
Can Romney win? I don’t think so. Will it be close? Yes.
Yet in the end it will be up to the coming leadership, Jeb Bush, and those yet only piercing the horizon, to Shepherd the party back to an “everyman’s Party” and not the fringe it has become.

And this from Colorado


I hate to admit this but this caught my eye on the HUFF POST. They are not that reliable but I vetted this and these two professors in Colorado have deduced that Mitt Romney will win in a landslide. Their diametric has some valid points and I, by all means am not a professor, but I have some experience in playing the odds.
Their contention, and mind you their prediction model has predicted every presidential race since 1980, is that economic indicators are what reads the tea leaves. They predict Romney winning 320 to 218. Who am I to argue with two guys who have been doing this since 1980?
Here is the problem if you seek out other very relevant models.
1) Romney has not moved past 191 in the states he is most likely to win for quite some time. I have been following for the last 6 months and this number has not eclipsed the 191 mark, ever.
2) “The model also suggests that Romney will win every state currently considered a swing state which includes Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Colorado.” According to these guys these 9 states, all the major “battleground” states will go to Romney. I think this is some shark jumping. True a great deal can happen between now and then. This would require all 9 of the states to go strictly to Romney. I just don’t see this. And neither does Real Clear Politics. Which has Obama sitting at 221 coming out of the gate. Which leaves only 49 electoral votes to be had. Again Romney, as on most other projection models, still sits in his 191 chair with 79 votes to be gathered up.
3) This election may come down to the wire but I am not sure that Romney will catch up. Other projections have Pennsylvania leaning Obama. Some have him winning outright and that is considering the questionable voter ID kerfuffle. If this states, with so many intangibles taking place, falls Obama then the ones, minus the same intangibles, are fully in play for the President and makes his road to 49 more electoral votes pretty clear. Penn has 20 so that knocks the number down to 29 votes. That would only require Florida to fall to Obama and game over.

Professor Berry even warns “As scholars and pundits well know, each election has unique elements that could lead one or more states to behave in ways in a particular election that the model is unable to correctly predict.”

As they say in professional sports “that is why we play the game.” And the Game is ON!

Something I Just read


“That was a confusing time for me, but I don’t miss being misled. I’m not an atheist. There’s an undeniable unseen world that some people call God and think they know more about than other people. I try not to get hung up on the names.” —Iron and Wine
commenting on his distinction of being an agnostic as opposed to an atheist.

Shooting: An American Tradition


I have taken it all in since James Holmes shot up the movie theater in Colorado. It was awful and I held off until some of the white noise surrounding it cooled down. Then a few more incidents have been noticed by the media in the wake of that awful tragedy. I say noticed because gun violence in America happens every hour.  People have gone back and forth, made stances and shared their opinions about the massacre. But the one which keeps sticking in my craw is an assertion very similar to this: “if I had been in that theater with my gun I would have stopped him!” Which leads to my assertion: Unless you are a trained combat personnel (Army Ranger, Infantry, Special Forces, Navy Seal, SWAT, etc.) you have no idea what you would have done in a dark movie theater filled to capacity with people. Get over yourself. You would have most likely taken out a few more people.

Then this news story came across my FB timeline.

If you do not want to read it here is my best one sentence synopsis: Man goes to theater packing heat, gun goes off, he shoots himself in the rear end, and shows the rest of the world why idiots do not need to carry guns.

Good thing something did not “pop off” or he might have also injured or, worse, killed some innocent moviegoers. If I hear anyone else explain to me, in a serious tone, “man if I had my gun in that theater I would have <insert macho bravado here>” I think I am going to lose my mind. And here is why. 

I am not an armchair quarterback on this issue. I was in a store once in Nashville (June 24 2002) where a gun was accidentally discharged and I can honestly say that one gunshot froze everyone in place. It was unnerving and since the event when someone uses the word unnerving to describe something I immediately vet their claim with a few questions. The silence between the loud bang, the frozen faces, and the silence between broken by a man’s scream “my son! Oh God not my son!”  I had, at first thought the place was being robbed, and I was shooing some kids to hide behind a counter when I heard a small child begin screaming. I will never forget how it sounded. I peered over some store displays to see a man lower a bleeding child, maybe just shy of 3 years old, onto the floor of the store. He pleaded with God out loud to save his son as the boy’s blood pooled up beneath his head. He cried out for his father and I just knew I was about to watch a little boy die.I can still feel the shudder which rocked through me at that moment. 

Many of us went to them, huddled together there on the tile floor of the store, someone handing a handkerchief or towel another someone handing a bottle of water and all of us just standing there helpless as the child screamed “daddy.” I am not a praying type but whatever God it was this man was screaming at I asked it to spare this young boy. Ambulances take FOREVER to arrive. 

One finally did and the boy lived. Then, as the police arrived, we all quickly discovered that the father was carrying a .32 on his person. The toddler had simply reached and grabbed the pistol, pulled the gun out, and squeezed the trigger. The round clipped him in the forehead and fortunately only grazed him. You would not know it by the seeming gallon of blood that was left after the EMT took him to the ambulance. Once I realized this I was glad the man was gone. 

I probably would not have said anything to the man due to him being bereaved by his injured son. This would have just been cruel and pointless but after some time had passed I think a group confrontation by everyone standing in that store would have been adequate and justified.Since in reality he, by his carelessness, had taken the lives of everyone within shooting distance of him into his hands. I have been shot and do not care to be shot again. It sucks. My wound was minor but again it was merely a matter of centimeters.
I do not know what happened to the boy other than the news report that night on the local Nashville news stating he was grazed and not seriously injured. But to the father at the Mars Music in 2002 who had the .32 handgun with which his son shot himself in the head with:

You sir are the reason I am more fearful of “law abiding gun owners” than any common thug on the street which, out of your baseless fear, causes you to irresponsibly arm yourself. I hope you have given up the practice of carrying a gun on your person. I own a gun but do not feel the need to carry one around with me. A close friend of mine who grew up in Chicago’s Cabrini Green told me once “if you have a gun on you trouble will find you a lot of times” I believe that and guess what? You proved it. How dare you be so irresponsible. I am very glad your son is ok and I hope he goes on to lead a very prosperous life but to this day I can relive that incident as clearly as yesterday. I know many scenarios have gone through your mind since the day and I hope you have resolved them but what if that gun had actually killed someone? I hope you have decided to keep your gun at home. For the sake of the rest of the world please do so.

 

Sorry for the length of this but I have seen firsthand what a gun can “accidentally” do. It is not pleasant and it bears no resemblance to any Chuck Norris, Rambo, or Steven Seagal type derry doing. More times than not it is just awful and sad.

The Effin Eagles: All I ever needed to know I found in a friggin Don Henley song


Ok
So I have been turning this old gem,“The Heart of the Matter” by Don Henley, over in my head for a while now. I have been bemused at why exactly Don Henley keeps jumping into my head and I think is about…add nausea…forgiveness.
I am just like Jeff Lebowski in one of the greatest movies of all time, The Big Lebowski, when he utters his contempt for the band, the Eagles, and almost gets thrown out of a cab. *If you have not ever viewed said movie stop reading this blog now and never read it again until you watch this movie at least 3 times from beginning to end.
I know they are great, the Eagles that is, and I am not fragging on them to be hip or cool but frankly I am on Eagles overdose and have been for a long, long time. I think it was the drunken requests of Hotel California at too many Frat parties of my salad days. Or perhaps how they were the greedy corporate counterpoint to Pearl Jam’s valiant battle with Ticket Master back in the days. They are a great band. I am not doubting that but darn I am sick of listening to them. But yet I am still stuck with this darn Don Henley song in my head, which granted is not a part of the Eagles canon.
But after an internal review, as the thing has constantly been running on replay in my neural cortex for weeks now, I think it is trying to tell me something, and admittedly something which we all could learn a thing or two.
Here are some of the lyrics:
I got the call today
That I didn’t wanna hear
But I knew that it would come
An old, true friend of ours was talkin’ on the phone
She said you’d found someone
And I thought of all the bad luck,
And the struggles we went through
And how I lost me and you lost you
What are these voices outside love’s open door
Make us throw off our contentment
And beg for something more?
I’m learning to live without you now
But I miss you sometimes

The Part above is not necessarily what is speaking to me. I get it. Don Henley or his songwriter persona has realized his pages have turned with a former love. But the next part really speaks to the…er…Heart of the Matter:

The more I know, the less I understand
All the things I thought I knew, I’m learning again
I’ve been tryin’ to get down
To the heart of the matter
But my will gets weak
And my thoughts seem to scatter
But I think it’s about…forgiveness
Forgiveness
Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore

Yep he is really onto something there.

Ah…these times are so uncertain
There’s a yearning undefined
And people filled with rage
We all need a little tenderness
How can love survive in such a graceless age?
Ah…the trust and self-assurance that lead to happiness
They’re the very things – we kill I guess…
Ohh pride and competition
Cannot fill these empty arms
And the work I put between us
You know it doesn’t keep me warm
I’m learning to live without you now
But I miss you, baby
And the more I know, the less I understand
All the things I thought I’d figured out
I have to learn again
I’ve been trying to get down
To the heart of the matter
But everything changes
And my friends seem to scatter
But I think it’s about…forgiveness
Forgiveness
Even if, even if, you don’t love me anymore
There are people in your life who’ve come and gone
They let you down, you know they hurt your pride
You better put it all behind you baby; cause’ life goes on
If you keep carryin’ that anger, it’ll eat you up inside, baby
I’ve been trying to get down
To the heart of the matter
But my will gets weak
And my thoughts seem to scatter
But I think it’s about forgiveness
Forgiveness
Even if, even if you don’t love me
I’ve been tryin’ to get down
To the heart of the matter
Because the flesh will get weak
And the ashes will scatter
So I’m thinkin’ about forgiveness
Forgiveness
Even if, even if, you don’t love me…
Forgiveness (yeah)
Forgiveness (baby)
Forgiveness (ohh)
Forgiveness (ahh yeaaahhh)
Forgiveness (ohh)
Forgiveness
Even if, you don’t love me anymore…

Trite? Maybe but the song has been worming around in my brain hole for some reason and I think Mr. Henley is nailing one of the truest sentiments we all need to embrace or more importantly allow ourselves to let go of. We have to forgive and go on with our lives. Carrying around anger and the pain that comes with it is like carrying all these fairly to moderately sized rocks around with us and what is a boulder? One big rock! Enough fairly or moderately sized rocks and this becomes a boulder too cumbersome to lug around with any semblance of peace or happiness.
You find the gems in the strangest places. Thanks Mr. Henley. So now that I have waxed on your late 80’s greatness perhaps now your song will leave me alone and quit popping up in my brain. Or perhaps it will stay with me and keep me honest with myself to do the very thing these lyrics insist I must.
I still am not going to like the Eagles though.

Stumbled Upon the Future


If you want to get your mind completely blown away check this out.

I stumbled upon this doing one of my many searches about he coming singularity and was absolutely astounded. This site, granted, is very speculative but what it does is offer a timeline of the future, with some very not so pleasant and some very encouraging things which lay in store for humanity or what is left of it after all is said and done. If this model is even close to correct earth is in for some things unimaginable.

I will recap some of the things which struck me as an American:

* Goodbye SW USA. The Mexicans will eventually lay claim back to you in about 2082. And good riddance by the way because you will be mostly desert by then. But seriously the US took California, Texas, NM, and Arizona from them anyway.

* Our military is going to be up to some SCI-FI movie type stuff. Mainly things which make unmanned drones and GPS strike capability look like paper, rock, and scissors. Invisibility and missiles that fall from outer space are just a couple.

* Everyone will be moving to the North. Apparently due to climate change if you live below he Mason Dixon Line you had better be prepared to move or be very resourceful.

*They are even predicting some WWII soldiers will still be alive to commemorate the war’s 100 anniversary. Hmmmf!

And as a general human on this planet

* The merging of man and machine

* AI technology which will serendipitously take over the whole shooting match by the 23rd century.

* The world is basically stay on the brink of total destruction

* Urban areas are going to become even more URBAN with sky scrapers spanning city blocks and reaching thousands of feet into the sky. They will also house millions of residents and most will never have to leave the complex. Sounds exactly like Soylent Green. Not cool.

* They claim that most people born in the 1960’s have a real shot at seeing a life span of 200 years. WOW!

* Remember the Terminator? You are going to become him on some level.

These and many more earth shattering predictions can be yours for…well… free if you have internet access which I assume you do if you are reading this.

*** One final caveat: if these words somehow make it into the future where humans can do just about anything could someone please make sure and bring me back in some way so I can see it. I am not opposed to one of those synthetic bodies you have in your future. Thanks

 

Fare the well Andy Griffith


Just found out Andy Griffith has passed. I am hard pressed to think of any individual as positively influential as Andy. Of course he was the genuine Andy Taylor from the Andy Griffith show and this will be the most powerful element of his legacy.
There are however some other gems which I am often surprised his “fans” miss out on.
Andy Griffith’s best work to me was in Elia Kazan’s “A Face in the Crowd.” It often makes me wonder, while watching this masterwork, how different would we view Andy if he had kept with this direction, more serious dramatic roles, which he was very powerful as. But also without Mayberry we would have missed one of the most iconic slices of Americana nostalgia ever created. At least we have examples of his other capabilities.
So long Andy You will truly be missed.

OK This bugs me enough that I blogged about it


I was raised, probably just like everyone else, with the ethos “if you haven’t got anything nice to say”, you know the rest. And I also know I am treading on thin ice with what I am about to write but it has irked me for years that I am just bound to “do a little number” about a song. Let me preface this with: I am not being negative in the slightest and I have nothing personally against what I am about to wax on here and do not know the creator of what I am going to write about in the next 600 or so words. And I doubt they would care one way or the other but much like John Lee Hooker in Boogie Chillun “it’s in him and it’s just got to come out.” I personally do not like the song “Walking in Memphis.” Here is why.

It rubs me the wrong way and has for years. This is nothing new, I did not like it the first few thousand times I heard it. It rubs me the same way that people hear “Free Bird” or “Sweet Home Alabama” and assume that the rest of the rednecks yelling the lyrics out encapsulates me as a southerner. And it rubs me, oh man does it rub me, the wrong way when people use it as some sort of sound track for their first experience in Memphis.

I have been to Disney (East and West) and did not walk around, through my entire experience humming “It’s a Small World.” The song itself is OK and passable so I am not slamming the writer, it “ain’t” his fault and he has no control of what others do after it is released but people, for god’s sake, “Walking in Memphis” is way down on the list of songs you should associate with Memphis.

I get that the tourism board probably loves it and I don’t blame them, it is made to order as far as a tourist song goes. I am very sure the writer of the song loves it and has reaped a just reward. I have no problem with this. The Don Corleone mindset (“It makes no difference, it don’t make any difference to me what a man does for a living, you understand.”) is my view. Yet for the rest of you, do some homework and realize Memphis is a deep, ocean deep, place filled to the brim with culture. It is a Mecca. So much art has been created, unique to American culture, it boggles my mind and I have done my homework, my entire life and still learn things that still amaze and humble my soul.

So I am not attacking the song. Its lyrics are a bit trite for my taste yet also I get it. The guy was stupefied by his experience and I think this is probably a very honest response and in song no less. Just for the rest of you please, pretty please, do not make it the soundtrack for your journey to Memphis.
Read this book:
Deep Blues by Robert Palmer
or this book
It Came From Memphis by Robert Gordon
Listen to these songs:

Booker T. Laury Memphis Blues
This goes to the very heart of Memphis music. It is its history and captures one of the greatest barrelhouse Piano players ever.

Booker T. and the M.G.sGreen Onions
There are tons of Stax songs and I encourage anyone to dive in but if I had to pick one I thought captured the sound it’s gotta be this one.

And I would suggest going to Sun Studios

The Stax Museum
Of course there is the King and Graceland
but also for an alternate take on where Memphis Music is now you might want to give a listen to Jack Oblivion who has done and is doing some very interesting music.
Memphis is basically stacked with history and culture unlike any other place in the world. Just don’t let one song from one guy temper your vision before visiting the Bluff City.

* Also for the record I love me some Lynard Skynard, the original boys. Just so you know.