Sunday, June 26, 2011
Saturday, June 25, 2011
Friday, June 24, 2011
For people who enjoy juicy political sex scandals, the last couple of months have been a golden era.
First, it was California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the child he fathered out of wedlock. Then it was New York Rep. Anthony Weiner who was caught sending inappropriate messages to women other than his wife.
The public already has plenty of ammunition for being cynical toward our politicians. Toss a couple of scandals like these on to the fire and the discontent becomes a raging inferno.
There are many lessons that can be learned from the Weiner situation, but perhaps the primary lesson is that many politicians simply do not know how to manage a scandal once the public becomes aware of it.
For all the public's cynicism, we tend to be pretty forgiving if a person will just admit his mistake and learn from it. However, Weiner did not do that. First, he denied that he had done anything wrong. Then, he said that somebody had hacked into his Twitter account to smear him.
Obviously, he was trying to buy time, hoping the story would go away. It did not, and he finally had to admit his mistakes. If he had just been honest when the story first broke, he might have been able to limit the political damage. Instead, he chose another approach and paid dearly.
The revelations about the end of Arnold Schwarzenegger's marriage also recently caught the public's attention.
Now, everybody involved must endure the prying eyes of the public. It is hard to imagine a more difficult situation than having to deal with such a private matter on the public stage.
Additionally, the children (including the ones from his marriage) are old enough to understand what is going on. I am sure Schwarzenegger was not thinking of this 10 years ago, but he has to deal with this reality now.
While Schwarzenegger was wrong in what he did, we must all be careful before wagging our fingers at him too strongly. Though none of us like to admit it, all of us are capable of making decisions like his if we lose our focus. History is littered with people who made the same decisions as Schwarzenegger.
Historical figures in the Bible such as King David and Solomon both committed adultery. David was described as a man after God's own heart, but he strayed. If he can do that, what does this say about the rest of us?
The bottom line is we all need to remain humble about what we have observed in both the Weiner and Schwarzenegger situations. If we find ourselves thinking we would never do something like that then we are in big trouble. The moment we find ourselves believing we are incapable of failure then we become that much more susceptible to it.
Pride makes us behave in a funny way. It makes us get too big for our britches, and before we know it, we are standing in the wreckage of situations we never thought would occur.
I do not know if it happened this way to Weiner and Schwarzenegger. However, power and fame are great seducers. People tell us how great we are and then we start to believe it.
When we reach that point, we find ourselves with one foot dangling over a cliff and the other on a banana peel. We all need to be careful. If we do not, big problems await us.
Sunday, June 19, 2011
Sunday, June 12, 2011
All are welcome. THIS MEANS YOU!!
The simple truth is that Bob Dylan is the most influential musician of the last 50 years. I am sure many would disagree with this assertion, but when looking at his body of work and who he influenced, this fact becomes clear.
Late last month, Dylan turned 70 years old with little fanfare. Last year, the late John Lennon's 70th birthday was observed in multiple ways ranging from television specials to re-issues of his music.
However, Dylan remained largely silent. This really should not come as a surprise. Dylan has played out his career on his own terms, and for better or worse, his birthday did not get the recognition it deserved.
Dylan's influence on popular music cannot be overstated. When comparing him to major acts like the Beatles, it is clear that he influenced them far more than they influenced him.
Exhibit A in this debate is the music produced by the Beatles after they became acquainted with Dylan. If nothing else, Dylan showed musicians that just about any topic was fair game when it came to developing subject matter for songs.
In the Beatles' case, they rapidly changed from a band that almost exclusively focused on love songs to a band that would try anything. Particularly Lennon and George Harrison picked up on what Dylan was doing.
Beatles' masterpieces like 'I Am the Walrus' simply could not have been composed without exposure to Dylan's brand of imagery and surrealism in the mid-1960s.
Was Dylan equally influenced by the Beatles? Probably not, but it must be acknowledged that the Fab Four had an impact on him. After all, he was making his transition from folk music to rock and roll just after Beatlemania hit America.
Likely, there was some inspiration there, but Dylan's musical vision was definitely his own.
Last month, the Nashville Scene magazine had a fascinating article about Dylan's album Blonde on Blonde, which was recorded in Nashville in 1966. The album is one of the greatest in rock and roll history. However, the article made a compelling case that it not only helped revolutionize rock and roll but also how music was made in that city.
Article writer Daryl Sanders interviewed several of the surviving musicians who played on those sessions. They stated they had never experienced anything quite like it before or since.
Making their living as musicians in Nashville, these men were fantastic artists. However, Dylan's approach was new and refreshing.
Instead of simply arriving for a session and working on a three-minute song, they found themselves playing on songs that lasted as long as 11 minutes. By today's standards, this does not appear too revolutionary, but it was at that time.
Because Dylan was able to break down these boundaries of conventional record making, many of the artists performing at Bonnaroo grew up in a musical environment that showed them anything was possible.
When reviewing Dylan's 50 years of work, it is quite eclectic. Folk, rock and roll, country, and Biblical music all have significant places within his work.
However, when re-reading his autobiography Chronicles: Volume 1 recently, I could not help but feel that his career had taken a tremendous toll on him. Many thrusted the title 'Spokesman for a Generation' on him, but he really did not like it.
I got the feeling that he really craved a simple life, but all the fame he had achieved would not allow it. That is a shame, but maybe that is why his recent birthday occurred so quietly.
Our long national nightmare is over.
Saturday, June 11, 2011
Fact: In the last few days, my landline telephone service through ATT has been interrupted.
Fact: ATT has been very slow to correct the problem.
Fact: This is impacting my ability to update my blog with new material.
Hopefully, this issue will be resolved early next week (I'm not holding my breath that it will happen this weekend). I just wanted to let you regular readers know there is nothing wrong with me. I'm fine except for not having landline telephone service. Oh, the inconviences of modern life.
As always, thanks for reading.
Saturday, June 4, 2011
This week's Sports Illustrated documents cheating within the Ohio State football program that goes back to 2002. Coach Jim Tressel has already been forced out, and the NCAA will be taking a good, long look at the program. This is a story that will not be going away any time soon.
So, apparently, the conference's sacred cow status is being chipped away. Michigan's football program is already on probation. Ohio State will join it, too. Also, about 20 percent of Penn State's roster has a criminal record.
Enjoy the spotlight guys. It is about time.
The events of the last few months should make us all feel more thankful than ever to have a roof over our heads.
Though I could go in a lot of directions with that comment, I am primarily thinking about the weather. The world has experienced a series of massive natural disasters that have killed thousands and impacted many more lives.
The Japanese tsunami seems like a distant memory in some respects though it only happened a few months ago. An entire culture changed for the foreseeable future because of a strong earthquake and the resulting tidal wave.
Of course, in
Additionally, because of the rainy spring season, the Mississippi River brought flooding from the Midwest down to
I do not mean to minimize other natural disasters. They all can be awful. For example, the recent tornado in
Among the hardest hit places in that city was a hospital. Hospitals are essential during these events, and when one gets wiped out, it makes a bad situation even worse.
Not only are the existing patients traumatized by the storm, but the hospital can not assist newly injured people. This type of one-two punch can devastate any community whether it is a small town or large city.
All these events have happened, and we have only just started hurricane season. The season lasts from June 1 until November 30. If events continue to unfold as they have, it should not surprise us if we see a lot of strong storms in the
The bottom line is the events described above demonstrate just how fragile life is. Ways of life can be changed in only a few minutes if we find ourselves in the path of a storm.
We all go about our day-to-day lives and rarely consider how easily it can all be gone. This is not meant as a criticism. We grow accustomed to the pace of our lives and enjoy our comfort zones. I enjoy my comforts zones and do not like to get kicked out of mine.
However, sooner or later, it happens to all of us. Weather disasters are just one way this occurs. And since the weather is not going away, we will always remain vulnerable to what our friends in
Despite this possibility, weather has always fascinated me and will continue to do so. The power of weather is especially interesting. If The Weather Channel is broadcasting a show about tornadoes then there is a good chance I will watch it. If meteorologist Jim Cantore is strapped to a tree in the middle of a hurricane, I will be sitting about a foot-and-a-half from my television screen.
Weather is one example of life's double-edged sword. It can be beautiful and deadly. It can be breathtaking and tragic. It can be tranquil and terrifying.
There are not a lot of aspects of life that we can say that about. Then again, I am glad there are not many things that fall in that category. Life is challenging enough as it is.