Monthly Archives: June 2011

Of Wikipedia, revisionism, serial killers, The Duke and Michelle Bachmann: the past is the present, the future is the present, and the present is fucked

In case you missed it, America’s newest official candidate for the presidency, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, kicked off her campaign in her hometown of Waterloo, IA yesterday by confusing John Wayne with John Wayne Gacy. Honest mistake. Anybody could have made it.

I mean, it’s still odd. I know first-hand how attuned Iowans can be to their own local histories. Iowans by god know who was born in their town, and for Bachmann to mix up The Duke with a serial killer, to somehow mistake Waterloo for Winterset, well, that’s unusual.

Still, to her credit, Bachmann has offered up the most profoundly true statement we’re likely to hear from any candidate between now and November 2012 when she acknowledged that she’s not perfect. Which is true. She once explained that the founding fathers eliminated slavery. Read more

For divorced men everywhere: a small, flowery statement

I don’t often do confessional. Yeah, a lot of what I’m going through finds its way into my posts in symbolic fashion, perhaps, but I haven’t done much in the way of personal narrative about my life, even though I have encouraged other writers here to do just that. But maybe this little bit is worthy of a slow news day.

I’m hardly the first guy to get a divorce. My guess is that a lot of other guys in my situation will recognize the sensation of emptiness that consumes the first year (or perhaps longer) after you leave. Once you had a house. Once you had someone to share meals with. Maybe you had a yard and grass that needed mowing and even a small garden to weed. You may have been unhappy and unfulfilled, but you had a life. Read more

ANALYSIS: US beats Panama – kudos to Bradley

Eleven days ago Panama beat the US men’s soccer team in the group stage of the Gold Cup, and I was critical of coach Bob Bradley for a sort of lingering inability to get the club – perhaps the most talented group the US has ever seen – performing up to its ability. At that point I did something I have done before: implore the US Soccer Federation to see if it could lure Jurgen Klinsmann into taking the head coaching job.

Tonight, in the tournament semi-finals, the US won the rematch, beating Panama 1-0. And in the spirit of fairness and giving credit where it is due, I’d like to acknowledge that Bradley has done a masterful job over the past week and a half. 1-0 doesn’t sound like a thumping by any stretch, but the US always seemed likely to put one in and Panama had almost no real scoring opportunities. Over the last couple of games (including their 2-0 defeat of Jamaica on Sunday) Bradley has had the team executing in ways that are actually worthy of their skill. Read more

Samuel Smith: Six Poems Now Up at Pemmican

Pemmican Press

I’ve been ecstatic to have some of my poetry accepted in recent months (after the usual stream of rejections that typify the life of the not-yet-famous poet). In this case, the publication in question is Pemmican, an outstanding online journal that’s been around since the early 1990s. They pride themselves on publishing work that is “outside the mainstream of its day.” In acknowledging their debt to the journals that helped shape their vision, the editors say this:

That poetry might be characterized as not only differing from the stylistic and structural conventions of its time but in its use of imagery and language, its sense of “place” (or lack of place in some cases), and, perhaps most important of all, its embrace of the political as a proper subject for poetry. Read more

Happy Father’s Day: “The Day Daddy Died”


Today is Father’s Day, and S&R would like to wish a happy one to America’s dads.

At the same time, and in the contrary spirit that often typifies what we do around here, I’d like to be the one who acknowledges that our relationships with our fathers are often less than we’d hope for. Frankly, some dads are complete bastards, and in many cases they’re probably at least a complex mixed bag. And why not – being a parent is hard, I’m told. This basic reality makes the guys who get it right even more worthy of our love and respect.

It’s no worse than fair to say that my own father lived his life out between Mixed Bagville and the untamed Bastardlands, and truth be told I have a hard time remembering him as more good than bad. Read more

Saturday Video Roundup: now THAT was Rock & Roll

A variety of things have been calling me back to the great rock of my youth today, so I thought I’d share.

First off, fellow scrogue Dr. Jim Booth reminded us this morning via Facebook that today is the birthday of Sir Paul McCartney. As I noted on my own FB page, I have often been critical of Paul’s post-Beatles work, accusing it of being frivolous. I mean, come on, “Coming Up”? Still, it would be wrong to let a few iffy songs cause me to denigrate a wonderful career, especially when that career includes stuff that’s just fuckin’ awesome. Like this.

Read more

An open letter to LeBron James from America: let’s get back together

Dear LeBron:

The WWE, Hollywood, soap operas and the NBA front office have something in common: they all understand that a compelling narrative requires what the pro wrestling biz calls a “heel.” A bad guy. An anti-hero. A villain. A black hat. The only thing different about the NBA is that they won’t admit they’re in the compelling narrative business.

But trust me, they are. And ever since last summer you have been very good for them. You’ve been Godzilla, Hannibal Lecter, Stefano DiMera, Freddy Krueger, Snidely Whiplash and Andre the Giant all rolled into one, the looming über-evil thug who rigged the game, casting a long, dark shadow over any hope of prosperity and fair play for years to come. Read more

An open letter to LeBron James from America: let’s get back together

Dear LeBron:

The WWE, Hollywood, soap operas and the NBA front office have something in common: they all understand that a compelling narrative requires what the pro wrestling biz calls a “heel.” A bad guy. An anti-hero. A villain. A black hat. The only thing different about the NBA is that they won’t admit they’re in the compelling narrative business.

But trust me, they are. And ever since last summer you have been very good for them. You’ve been Godzilla, Hannibal Lecter, Stefano DiMera, Freddy Krueger, Snidely Whiplash and Andre the Giant all rolled into one, the looming über-evil thug who rigged the game, casting a long, dark shadow over any hope of prosperity and fair play for years to come. Read more

If looks could kill they probably will: 30-Day Song Challenge, the Sequel, day 30 – a song you never get tired of, no matter how many times you hear it

And so we arrive at the last day of 30-Day Song Challenge, the Sequel, which followed hot on the heels of the original Challenge – so 60 songs in slightly more than a couple of months (actually, given my cheating, it was quite a bit more than 60 songs, wasn’t it?)

I wanted to end The Sequel with a nod to the timelessness of music. As anyone with ears and even a hint of critical awareness knows, a vast majority of popular music is disposable. Some of it might hold up for a few listens, but it’s built to be more fad than trend (or even fashion). Hear today, gong tomorrow. Read more

On the road to Phelamanga: 30-Day Song Challenge, the Sequel, day 29 – a song you like by a band or artist that isn’t from North America, Europe or Australia

I really enjoyed the original 30-Day Song Challenge and my hat’s off to whoever created it. But it seemed a little obvious to me in places, so when I set out to create the sequel I wanted to tackle some ideas that we may not think about as often as we might. Today, one of the big ones.

We here in the US think of rock and roll as something that’s pretty much American and British, with perhaps a bit of Canadian and Aussie thrown in. In other words, Anglo. Read more

Something good can work: 30-Day Song Challenge, the Sequel, day 28 – a song you like by a band or artist you first discovered in the past year

I seem to discover lots of news bands that I like every year, and since this particular day of the challenge doesn’t ask me to pick my favorite – just a band I like – let’s keep it simple and pick one without overthinking it. Because if I start thinking about this one I’ll be here all night.

Two-Door Cinema Club is one of my favorite finds of the past couple of years. Crisp, smart indie pop that owes a great deal to the late ’70s New Wave and bands like XTC and Haircut 100 (although when they’re asked about their influences they don’t really talk about New Wave). Love this one. Read more

Panama 2, USA 1: ANALYSIS – is it time for Bradley to go?

The US soccer team just dropped a 2-1 decision to Panama in the second group stage match of the 2011 Gold Cup. To say the game was frustrating to watch is to understate the case, and with some panache.

Despite an appalling first half, the Americans certainly had their chances to draw even and win the game late, capped by sub Steve Wondolowski swallowing his tongue and club-footing what amounted to a layup attempt into the third deck at the 80:00 mark. Read more

DJ Enhanced Interrogation Techniques: 30-Day Song Challenge, the Sequel, day 27 – a song you think would be an effective instrument of torture

It seems that America now officially believes in torture as a primary tool of investigation. And back in 2008, I did a little story on how, believe it or not, we are using music as an implement of torture. So I suppose today’s challenge has a dark side, huh?

Mercifully for those suspected terrorists in captivity, DJ EIT (Enhanced Interrogation Techniques) lacks imagination (although, +1 for the “Barney Theme Song” and Meow Mix jingle). Still, nothing at all from the Disco era? Read more

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