KingMidget's Ramblings

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A Song For Today

I’ve written before about what I look for in songs. Sound, feel, lyrics, meaning. This is a song that hits the first two so hard, just so incredibly powerfully, that I can’t even get to the lyrics or the meaning. I’ve got no idea what the story is of this song. Well, no, I think I have an idea, but I’ve never got to the point where I’ve absorbed the words because, damn, the sound and the feel are just so … I love this song. I really don’t want to dive deep into the lyrics because I don’t need to. The sound and feel is enough, more than enough. It may just end up being my top song of 2018 on Spotify.

The interesting thing is that Phosphorescent has different live versions of this song, plus the studio version. It is this version, recorded in a church that is the most powerful. It is the one that speaks to me in ways I don’t even begin to understand. Other versions have a different feel. Hope you enjoy it. (I only wish the video on YouTube was of the group actually performing the song.)



I’m Having A Moment

Two young men I work with are about to become fathers for the first time. Bryan and his wife have a baby coming in the next few weeks. Shawn and his another month or so later.

We had a baby shower for Bryan and his wife on Friday. Brought some pizza in from Pizza Rock, sat around the conference table, told stories of parenting, and shared in the beauty they are about to experience.

After everybody had returned to work, I told the expectant parents how incredible being a father has been. As I tell anybody who is about to have their first baby, it is the most tiring, frustrating, difficult thing they will ever experience. And every moment is worth it. Every single moment.

I told Bryan and his wife, Danica, that there is something they need to be ready for. That moment, the very instant, when they each hold their newborn in their arms for the very first time. There is nothing that compares to it and nothing that could actually prepare them for what they will feel then. Absolute, unconditional love. Fear. Hope. A knowledge about the capacity for all of those emotions at a level one doesn’t actually even begin to comprehend until that little human being, wrapped in a blanket looking up at you, takes your heart and your soul and everything you have. And it’s okay. Because this, this baby, is worth all of it.

I would never give up all of the difficulty and heartache that comes with being a parent if it meant losing that brief instant of beauty and clarity and perfection that is holding your newborn child for the first time.

As I told Bryan and Danica just a small piece of this I teared up a bit.

So …

During the lunch, several people started talking about the TV shows they stream and that they’re addicted to. One of the shows discussed, and of which I have seen a lot of positive comments about, was This Is Us. I resist all of these new shows. I don’t stream. I don’t get hooked. I just don’t want to get into spending even more time in front of a screen.

Which means that this afternoon I watched the first episode of the first season of This Is Us. There are all sorts of moments in the show, dealing with family and life, and … well, let’s just say I found myself tearing up all too frequently.

Clearly, I need a good cry.

And, yes, I’ll be watching more of the damn show.

7 Little Words is Wrong

One of the few game apps I have on my phone that I play regularly is 7 Little Words. For the uninitiated … every day, there are seven words you have to guess. The game provides you with definitions and then tiles with different letters on them that you have to put together to provide the words that match the definitions.

So …

Today, one of the definitions was “People who lack success.” The word was “failures.” And I thought that there were all sorts of things between the two. If you have not achieved “success” does that really mean you are a failure?  If you are a “failure” does that really mean you have never achieved “success”?  Is it really a zero sum game where the only options are one or the other?

This really bothered me. From some people’s perspective, I have achieved great success. An education, a law degree, a position of importance, a marriage, two kids … hell, I even made a couple thousand bucks off the first book I published.



You know

There are other ways in which one could say my life has been a failure. I won’t get into those things here, because my main point is that I don’t consider my life to be either a success or a failure. Instead, I believe I’m in the vast pool of human beings who neither achieve “success” or are consigned to “failure,” but operate in the middle of those two things. Just putting one foot forward and then the other throughout their days and their lives.

What do you think?

The Early Reviews Are In

Dialogue-rich “Deviation” reminds me in many ways of a two-man Sam Shepard play in which brothers scrimmage for the moral high ground in the face of a grim family history. Here it’s Mickey and Johnny, each bringing his own view of the world to bear on an unusual predicament: their mom has landed herself in jail. Their father’s definitely not blameless in how it all developed, but the brothers haven’t seen things quite the same way as they grew up. Their habitual Friday night diner date, we imagine, has always been full of waitress-ogling and profanity-laced ribbing, but this one feels different.

Paxson does a good job painting the brothers’ relationship. I felt like I’ve seen these guys hunched at the bars of diners and roadside taverns, working on their pasts along with their beers. They jab and joke and threaten and forgive – they’re linked whether they like it or not.

And …

A very interesting short story told almost entirely in dialogue. The banter between the two main characters is sharp and flows nicely. The dark subject matter may not be to everyone’s taste (lots of adult language and situations, if that sort of thing bothers you), but it’s certainly an innovative concept.

I could imagine it being adapted into a play–the writing and occasional dark humor seemed very well-suited to being performed live. At different points and in different ways, it reminded me strongly of both “Of Mice and Men” by Steinbeck and “The Hooligan” by Gilbert. Still, even on the page, it worked quite well.

And one more…

This is a unique story in that the author tells it mostly through dialogue, using only bits of exposition, all while managing to shift settings and develop character. That’s a tall order, and it was well done here. I also like how the author used random dictionary words to direct his story. Very creative idea.

Seems to me you need to listen to these people and download Deviation. And have a little fun with it … come back here and make suggestions of who should play the roles of Mickey and Johnny, their street preacher mother and their less than pure father, and of course the always alluring Ally.

Come along and Deviate with me.  It’s the most fun you’ll have for just 99 cents.

Being Politically Incorrect

A few weeks ago, a controversy erupted in my hometown. A local high school that has one of those international baccaluerate programs, also known as HISP, held a science fair. One of the students in the HISP program submitted a project titled “Race and IQ’ for the science fair.

Ever since then the local media has reported breathlessly about how offensive this project was. Students have protested. Parents have piled on. And everybody has an opinion. If they all get an opinion, so do I.

First, it’s impossible to know what the student’s objectives or intent were. None of the stories I have read include any information or quotes from him since the controversy began. The student and his parents appear to have gone completely quiet. On some level, good for them. Instead, there’s all sorts of … rumor and innuendo. He is known to have made racist comments in the past. (Examples please?)

Ultimately, though, none of that matters. The question of whether minorities are disproportionately underrepresented in elite programs like HISP are valid. While the student appears to have sought to suggest that race is a factor in intelligence, the question remains valid. Why are minorities underrepresented in these programs.

The student apparently conducted a survey that was pretty limited and not “scientifically sound.” Good, grade him accordingly for failing to demonstrate the right kind of academic rigor expected of a high school student in an advanced program like HISP.

But, where I have a problem is with the idea that the questions should have never been asked. That the topic is somehow inappropriate for discussion among educated individuals. Why are minorities underrepresented in McClatchy’s HISP program? Is it lack of opportunity? Lack of confidence and support? Differences in the socio-economic status of different races in America? Is it something else? Why wouldn’t we want to know this.

Yes, the student may have done a lousy job with his project. But grade him accordingly. Don’t shut him down. Don’t stop the inquiry. Ask the questions and answer them instead of insisting that it is better to ignore the issue.

If we cannot discuss the hard questions, if we cannot accept challenges to our convictions, what the hell are we doing?

* * * * *

In other news of political correctness, a fellow blogger/author read Deviation and expressed some discomfort at the objectification of women in the story. I share her discomfort. Absolutely, 100% get it.

Her concern is one of the reasons why it took me a couple of years to get around to pushing the publish button on the story. The characters talk a lot of crap, much of it disrespectful of women.

But one of the fundamental reasons I decided to push the publish button was because of exactly that. It is crass and crude and politically incorrect. And I wanted to make a statement by publishing this long short story. Fiction and art are meant to be challenging and to push the boundaries and unsettle people.

We seem to have lost that in a lot of what is produced these days, and I’m tired of the politically correct wars that rage. Just absolutely tired of it.

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