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  • Monday's Random Thoughts

    Random thoughts on music, the weather, and the power of the young and old:

    • You know Mother Nature is confused when September impersonates July and fall allergies start early.

    • I was in Texas earlier last week to work on a story and see my family briefly. They’ve had so much rain down there that the state’s leash laws need to be amended to include mosquitoes.

    • Last week marked four years since The Replacements performed in a transcendent show at Forest Hills Stadium in New York. See highlights from the show here and read my blog on the night here.

    • Agree with this statement wholeheartedly: Some days I need the music and some days I need the lyrics.

    ••••••

    Thought-provoking and interesting quotes I’ve read recently:

    • From comedienne Robin Fox on getting paid to do what she loves: “Know your worth ... If you’ll work for free why should someone pay you? It is the very definition of being a pro. If you’ll do a free weekend show at a restaurant that won’t even pay you with a sandwich and the place is packed selling food and drinks week after week year after year ... and you’re still willing to perform there ... you’re part of the problem. Being a pro means being paid.”

    • About our list obsessions, from David Cantwell in a New Yorker essay on rock critic Greil Marcus: “The List is an essay in enumerated disguise … That click-baiting scourge of our online age, the all-pronouncement-but-no-argument “listicle,” is a different animal.”

    ••••••

    And finally…

    If you haven’t had the chance, read these two stories that I saw recently. The first is about an 8-year-old who noticed a boy holding back tears at a football game, so he offered him a seat until his dad arrived. The second is about a 99-year-old man who walks 6 miles a day to visit his wife in the hospital. Both give you hope.

  • Random Thoughts: Monday Edition

    Two random thoughts and two quotes worth pondering on a Monday:

    • I have a 17-year-old short hair cat who sheds tumbleweeds … daily.

    • “The compromises that reality forces on dreams” — Peter Travers, Rolling Stone, reviewing the wonderful movie “Hearts Beat Loud.”

    • “The first step in any teen-age ambition is to fake the persona you wish to become; the next is believing it yourself,” Seymour Stein, founder of Sire Records

    • The dictionary's definition of “pride”: a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one's own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.

    Some have too much; others not enough. As I mentioned, it's worth pondering. 

  • Random Thoughts: Quotes to Ponder

    Two quotes worth pondering:

    — “Some people don't get metaphor at all, so anything one says from the podium to an audience of millions must be taken at face value” — James McMurtry

    — “We are a violent people with a violent history, and the instinct for violence has seeped into our national life" — historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr., marking the 50th anniversary of Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination.

  • A Few Random Thoughts...

    • My first (and hopefully last) analogy about the 2016 presidential campaign... To anyone complaining that sequels are bad, it’s worth noting that the third movie in the trilogy is often the worst of all.

    • Question: What part of “no” do children not understand? Is it the N, or the O?

    • Humidity is Mother Nature's version of a bad home perm.

    • I can understand why our cat does not like to have his food and water bowl close to the litterbox. What I don’t understand is why my kids insist on leaving food, drink and wrapper remnants in their rooms.

    • Great Quote: "If officials can decide not to implement laws they dislike, then equality under the law—is just a slogan.”

    • Great Quote #2 (courtesy of Nicholas): “I wonder who coined the term asshole and made into a bad thing.”

    • The best compliment a parent can receive is when someone tells you that your child has not changed, just grown up.

  • April’s (Mostly) Random Thoughts

    As the month comes to a close, here's a summary of random thoughts and observations from the month.

    alrightythen: Walking to the gym the other day, I passed a woman sitting on a garbage bag smoking a cigarette with surgical gloves on her hands. And this was in a parking lot in Northern Virginia, not on the streets of New York.

    The Nats are back: Jill and I recently enjoyed our first Washington Nationals game of the young baseball season. The tickets were part of a three-game pack that was part of my Christmas present to Jill last year. Happy holidays come to those who wait, and the Nats won (a true gift of its own, considering how poorly they played at the start of the year).

    iPhone lightning: I like taking pictures with my phone and posting them to Instagram, even though I know they will be nowhere nearly as good as you get with a regular DSLR. On an unrelated trip to the gym (yes, I’m going relatively consistently again), I managed to capture lightning during a heavy storm on my phone. Again, not as good as I would have gotten on my Canon, but pretty cool nonetheless.

    No smoking … PLEASE! A non-smoking room in a North Carolina hotel is sort of like car lanes in Manhattan — just a suggestion, not a rule to live by necessarily. ... Ick.

    My poor cats (not): When you're tone deaf, whistling while you work brings tears to the eyes of small animals. Ask mine. They'll tell you...

    No Kentucky, but Duke? Thank goodness Kentucky lost its chance at a perfect season and meant I didn’t have to root for Duke as March Madness dragged into April. So my personal streak continues, even though Duke won yet another National Championship. Oh well…

    Quote of the Month

    "Wonderful things can happen when you sow seeds of distrust in a garden of assholes..."

    Thank you and godspeed to the cast and crew of Justified, one of the best — and, in that inimitable Elmore Leonard way, often one of the funniest — shows I've had the pleasure to watch.

    Congratulations! 

    And on a truly random note, congratulations to author Tim Federle, football player JJ Watt and actress Glenn Close for their recent actions. What did they do?

    1) Tim published a new illustrated children’s book about a young boy with ADHD called Tommy Can’t Dance, which serves as proof that he’s been peering into our lives again.

    2) Watt, the Houston Texans football player, rushed out onto the court to congratulate 12-year-old Nicholas Connors for his National Anthem performance at a Houston Rockets game.

    3) And Close, whose sister is bipolar and whose nephew has schizoaffective disorder, was profiled in Variety’s “Power of Women” feature for her work with Bring Change 2 Mind to raise awareness about mental illness. She captured why she believes in this so strongly, articulating the feelings we’ve long had about the issue.

    “We thought the best thing to do was work against the stigma that surrounds mental illness,” Close told Variety, noting that one in four people are affected by it. “It’s a chronic illness like anything else.”

  • Random Thoughts: Spring (sort of) Edition

    Recently, I shared a photo from PrideFest Milwaukee that had an unexpected response. The photo said simply: “I don’t think the worst thing that could happen to me is raising a child who is gay. I think the worst thing is to raise a child who is cruel to those who are gay.”

    The post got an amazing 745 likes on my Facebook page, as well as a few of the anticipated responses that come when you share something that has long been part of the culture wars. I stand firm in my beliefs, but the reaction also is one reason I don’t post much overtly political stuff on Facebook. My friends/acquaintances cut across the political spectrum, and there’s no reason to incite one side or the other. Enough of that is going on as is.

    However, one response is worth examining in more depth. It came from a person who wrote, “The worst thing is to raise a child who is intentionally cruel to anyone … not just gay people.”

    No one disagrees with that, but the statement somewhat misses the point of the post, which calls attention to a group that has been abused and disenfranchised for some time.

    Long ago, I realized that children are not inherently racists/misogynists; more often than not, they’re puppeting what they hear from parents and family members. The danger comes when intolerant thoughts become ingrained beliefs and values.

    This is a simple fact: You can talk to, influence, help, offer, beg, plead, hope and pray, but you cannot "prevent" someone from making a bad decision.

    No matter how far we’ve come as a country, all you have to do is read the headlines and it becomes clear that intolerance and anger toward people who are different from us still has a strong grip on many in our nation. For every two steps forward, we take at least one step back, sometimes more.

    And we only have ourselves to blame.

    ••••••

    Quote of the month from Rosanne Cash: "You want to know where you come from and who you are connected to. From the most simple — tracing back your name — to the most complex of what sticks to your DNA over eternity. The musical lineage I have. The emotional and spiritual lineage I have. What my kids will get from that. All of those questions become really important. They certainly did for me."

    ••••••

    Here are some other random (and for the most part more tongue-in-cheek) thoughts from the past month:

    • Snow days make you realize there's a fine line between togetherness and trapped.

    • The morning after daylight savings time takes effect: There's no way it's already 11 a.m. Oh, yeah...

    • If you want to know why parents do what they do sometimes, blame Daylight Savings Time and the groundhog. That covers at least 90% of it this year...

    • Some days you wake up and feel bitter. At other times you are grateful. The latter definitely applies this morning, despite a night's sleep that feels like the cat's siesta on the ottoman.

    • After the first round of the NCAA basketball tournament: So UNC is smarter than Harvard. At basketball. Barely...

    • So, if you're deciding to run for president, you think you'd be smart enough to purchase your domain name in advance. Don’t believe me? Take a look at www.tedcruz.com. (Not surprisingly, the page no longer exists at the apparent “request” of the Cruz campaign.)

    ••••••

    And finally…

    Dear Mother Nature: With regard to your seemingly ongoing disrespect for those of us who live on the East Coast, all I can say is live through this lingering allergy/cold/curl up in a fetal ball feeling. Then you'll understand why my acronym of choice for you right now is GFY.

    On behalf of the Mid-Atlantic and New England states, thank you for your prompt consideration of this request.

    Glenn