KingMidget's Ramblings

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My Top Three — Tallest Man on Earth

The guy I identify as my first “Spotify artist.” It’s time. Tallest Man on Earth. I heard one of his songs on satellite radio and then went home and explored his music via Spotify. I fell in love immediately with his sound. A couple of years ago, I got to see him live, opening for Head and the Heart at the Greek Theater in Berkeley. I’d love to see him some more and in a more intimate setting where he plays more acoustically and some of his slower, sadder songs.

But, here are my top three for The Tallest Man on Earth.

There’s No Leaving Now

Will there be time to harvest rivers
that for so long refused to grow?
All the little things you need to build a home
for your love

King of Spain

Seeing him perform this song live made a huge difference for me. It’s one of his peppiest songs and with a band behind him and a crowd of several thousand cheering him on, he knocked this completely out of the theater.

The Dreamer

I’m just a dreamer but I’m hanging on
Though I am nothing big to offer
I watch the birds, how they dive in then gone
It’s like nothing in this world’s ever still

And … if you really like this … here’s a 50 minute video on YouTube of one of his performances …

A Song For Today

Over on Twitter, I changed my handle from “As Soft As Chicken Skin” to “Love Will Find A Way,” which comes from something I read years ago — love will find a way, indifference finds an excuse. Those words and phrases are a thing that has stuck with me ever since. It’s kind of a life motto for me.

A Twitter friend tweeted a few hours later that my handle change had taken her down a rabbit hole (my words, not hers). She tweeted the youtube link to Tesla’s Love Song, which includes the same words — love will find a way. And then she tweeted that she was now wallowing in 1980s music, including a couple of Steve Winwood songs.

I’ve never been a huge fan of Steve Winwood, but her tweets motivated me to listen to a couple of his songs, and … now I have a song for today.

Stand up in a clear blue morning
Until you see
What can be
Alone in a cold day dawning
Are you still free
Can you be

Hope

When I graduated from law school, my first job was as a special education hearing office. I worked for a private entity located at my law school that had the contract with the state Department of Education to conduct special education hearings. Basically, if you have a child with special needs and are unhappy with how the public schools are handling those needs, you can request a hearing to determine whether the school is complying with the law. My role was the equivalent of a judge, absent the title, the robes and the respect. I convened the hearings, listened to the testimony, reviewed the documentary evidence, and issued written decisions on the issues raised.

A couple of years later, my first son was born and I experienced something I had never experienced before. The truest, purest form of unconditional love. A love that was unimaginable until the moment I first held in my arms. What I also experienced was this blissful, incredible feeling of such hope. Hope for him, hope for me, hope for the world. Because if this little guy could come into the world, than anything was possible. Everything seemed possible that night more than 26 years ago. Love and possibility and hope was everything that day and for years to come.

A year or two after my son was born, I began a special education hearing that ended up taking quite some time. The first time I convened the hearing, the parties reached a settlement. I congratulated them and returned home. Months later, the settlement had fallen apart and I was back to hold the hearing. No last minute settlement this time, the hearing lasted for days, spread out over several trips back to town over the course of a couple of months. It was an exhausting experience.

The child who was the subject of that hearing was a little boy a little older than my son. He was autistic and the parents and school district were battling over the best way to meet his needs. At one point, during the hearing, the child’s dad testified. At one point, he talked about what he did when he first learned of his son’s diagnosis. He talked about how he couldn’t sleep that night because he was too busy crossing off all the things he had on his mental list. The list of all the things he and his son would do, all the things his son would accomplish.

His testimony has stuck with me ever since as an example of the hope-crushing impact of a diagnosis like autism. The good news is that while that boy has grown to be an adult with autism, the family has found joy in who he is today. Their dreams adjusted, their hope modified, they have experienced incredible things with their son. (That hearing was one of the last I conducted before leaving that job. Shortly thereafter, through my next job, I reached out to the child’s mom and have remained in contact with them ever since.)

I will always remember that dad’s words all those years ago as one of the most heartbreaking things I’ve ever heard. But, I will also remember how he and his wife and their family were able to find a different definition of hope and happiness and know that, while there may have been things crossed off that list, they were able to put together a different list. And they have found fulfillment and happiness in that list.

Never give up hope, even if, at times, you have to redefine it.

Banned Again

The right wing blog I read has banned me once again. I was banned a few years ago when I commented under my real name. Then when I was banned, I started using an alias and a different email to be able to register to comment again. During the entire time I’ve commented over on PowerLine, I’ve been told that I am unpatriotic, that I hate America, that I am an anti-semite, and that I hate Jews. I have also been accused of making up the Jewish heritage of my wife and kids to try to avoid the anti-semite and Jew-hater charges.

Other liberals and moderates who comment there get the same treatment. And none of the right-wing commenters who make these kinds of juvenile name-calling allegations are ever banned. Oh, and by the way, the blog which has four primary authors, regularly post pieces that include the wonderful phrase, “liberals hate America.” Not “some liberals.” Not “most liberals.” Nope … “liberals hate America.”

So … over the last year or two, more and more commenters have suggested that it’s time for America to split. Some suggest it is time for armed warfare between them and us horrible lefties. And these are the people who have the gall to call me an America-hater.

One of them in particuliar, ever since Biden was elected, regularly comments on posts critical of the left or of Biden, and calls out me and the other moderates/liberals to defend what is described in the post. I did once, substantively, and got more playground insults thrown my way. It was then that I realized that this commenter was actually the America-hater because he regularly agrees with those who believe it is time to consider secession. And I started responding to many of his comments, particularly when he referred to me in a thread I wasn’t even participating in, by pointing out that he was the real America-hater.

And a couple of days ago, I was banned from commenting. No warning, no reason given. Just banned from commenting on the blog. This morning, I sent them the following email:

What’s particularly funny about this is the following … if I remember correctly, Scott is the one who moderates comments. So, I’m guessing that it’s Scott who decided to ban me. The same Scott who has posted a series of pieces about the social media and tech giants unfairly going after conservative voices.  So, let’s review the facts here … I was banned, without warning and without a stated cause. I can think of only two things that might have got me banned — (1) calling a commenter an America-hater; or (2) a comment I made about somebody else’s comment being the kind of bias PLers could get behind.  So, with respect to #1, PL authors and commenters regularly refer to all liberals as America-haters, but I guess that’s ok.  Also, I have been called an America-hater, an anti-semite, and a jew-hater more times than I can count, but I guess that’s ok, as long as it comes from right-wing commenters. Regarding #2, it was a relatively harmless comment and again, given all of the posts and comments about Dems and liberals and progressives, and  myself, being racist and prejudiced, etc., it’s hard to believe that my comment was worse. 
Which leads to the only conclusion I can reach … cancel culture is alive and well on PL just as much as it is in other forums.  I was banned, not because of any thing I said or did. I was banned because you don’t approve of my opinion. 
So … prove you’re better than those you criticize. Why was I banned and why aren’t conservative commenters who say far worse about me and the other moderate and liberal voices never banned?

I got this response:

I banned you but I didn’t note why.  Your comment doesn’t fall into any category that calls for it.You presume “facts” that aren’t so and make analogies — such as between us and Big Tech — that do not apply. I take great pleasure in banning idiotic jerks and have done so (infrequently) both to idiotic conservatives and stupid leftists.  I couldn’t care less about your stupid politics and have reinstated you despite your gratuitous incivility.  You could learn some manners too.

To which I replied:

If all of that is true, most of the commenters should be banned. You banned me because of my politics.
Please do not reinstate me. I’m moving on from the sewer that is Powerline. But thanks for acknowledging that you did it out of pique rather than any informed judgment that I violated your commenting rules. You are such a massive hypocrite, it’s ridiculous. Manners are something you and 99% of your commenters don’t know anything about.

It is just stunning what he, Scott Johnson, said in reply to me. I won’t deny that I’ve engaged in verbal warfare with commenters that isn’t exactly mannerly, but what I’ve said and done until recently pales in comparison to what has been thrown my way for years.

But it’s all good. As I stated in my last email to PowerLine, I’m ready to be done with the place. One of my missions for 2021 is leave the sewers behind. This is a good first step. Bye, bye, the hypocrites and playground bullies of PowerLine who never grew up. You will not be missed.

The Dime

Coming this Summer, The Dime is the coming-of-age story of Pete, Lily, and Sophie as they approach adulthood while dealing with family trauma and loss, and the mistakes they make along the way.

All Pete wanted was something for his 16th birthday, but he wasn’t going to get it from either of his parents, and being the new kid in Northville meant there weren’t any friends he could rely on. So, he tried to steal a Yankees t-shirt from the Five & Dime, and got caught. Instead of having to give up the shirt, Lily, the store’s clerk, offered him a deal. Take her sister, Sophie, to the end-of-year dance.

Lily and Sophie were orphaned by a car accident ten years earlier that killed their parents and left Sophie paralyzed from the waist down. Lily works at the Dime to support them and Sophie wallows in depression brought about by her injury and the loss of her parents. Pete’s attempted theft and the ensuing deal between Lily and Pete, set the three on a path towards the formation of a found family.

Pete and Sophie agree to go to the dance, but just before Pete is supposed to pick her up, his father, who has abused Pete for years, comes after him again. This time, Pete fights back for the first time ever. The resulting injuries leave Pete in the hospital, his mother in jail for neglect, and his father disappears, only to be found dead several weeks later.

Pete and Sophie grow close and with nowhere else to go, Pete moves in with Lily and Sophie and their lives go on, through reconciliations, an unexpected pregnancy, and death. The Dime is a three-part journey through the next three years in the lives of Lily, Sophie, and Pete. The story is told in first person, alternating between Lily, Sophie, Pete, and occasional short chapters from ancillary characters.

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