Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Deep Thoughts By No-Look McFadden: Episode 64

I love Rolling Stone, but c’mon, Lena Dunham on the cover of a music magazine? The disturbingly-quirky-and-shiftless-New Yorker vibe is well played out at this point. I think we’ve definitely proven that ugly angsty isn’t the new pretty at this point. Let’s move on.

Not that you should ever need additional incentive to be nice to your bartender, but a little context could help.

Few days pass without me missing Ireland. A story about issuing drunk driving permits to rural residents points up one of the many reasons why.

In case you’re looking for further signs of the apocalypse, you just found one: Duke assistant Scottie Montgomery is talking smack about recruiting in the state of North Carolina.
Football recruiting.

A pretty little story about how love is rarely where you think you’ll find it. Even in the case of a turtle.

Proud Sub owner. Proud dad. Totally not crying.

There’s a Devon Bookert (Florida State) AND a Devin Booker (Clemson) in the ACC? Why am I only now finding out about this?

So Season 3.5 of “The Walking Dead” is off to a rather “ugh” start. But I do have to admit that Lil’ Asskicker DOES kinda look like Lori. Good casting ... I guess?

Replaying the wedding songs of elderly couples can make things get dusty pretty quick.

Thank goodness Twitter exists to inform us that Charlize Theron is hot. Who watches the freaking Oscars and actually goes, “You know who’s surprisingly semi-attractive? That Charlize Theron. I never noticed that before.”
Hell, Manti Te’o could have told you that.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Limerick Friday LXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXII: Tebow Disciple Of Hate? Plus, War Of The Living Finally Arrives on “TWD”

Tebow to appear at a hate church
‘Til it threatened to put his rep in the lurch
He went into crisis mode
To save his image from the commode
Fraud or naïve? The truth we still search

A model-murder stunner
By the dude called Blade Runner
At worst, an abusive coward
His girlfriend beaten and overpowered
At best, an indiscriminate gunner

How low can you go?
Just ask Sidney Lowe
Pay taxes? He couldn’t bother
Arrested as a damn tax dodger
Adds to his coaching tale of woe

Howard a bitch all day
Kobe has to have his way
Can’t coexist to win
Rather whine again and again
Lakers = all that’s wrong with the NBA

Axel became a human shield
A zombie bomb loose in a field
Glenn is becoming unhinged
Blinded by thoughts of revenge
Can Rick’s mind ever be healed?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

“Listening In” Pulls Back Camelot’s Curtain To Offer Rare Frame Of Reference For Kennedy Leadership

 “For the great enemy of truth is very often not the lie—deliberate, contrived, and dishonest—but the myth—persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the clichés of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.”

“I saw how ideally politics filled the Greek definition of happiness: ‘Full use of your powers along lines of excellence in a life affording scope.’”

One of my personal heroes is Robert F. Kennedy. My Dad looks a lot like JFK. So it was a no-brainer that Ted Widmer’s “Listening In: The Secret White House Recordings of John F. Kennedy” would resonate with me on a number of levels.

The book captured conversations held in the Oval Office about a variety of topics. Not only is it fascinating to hear how JFK related to visitors and audiences of different priority and status, but it reveals quite a bit about the state of the world during his Presidency.

It is difficult for future generations to grasp the breadth of issues that faced JFK and his Cabinet, but these tapes open the blinds on struggles with the Cold War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, racism and equality, the space race, and other monumental challenges. In particular, a revealing statement by the author on the fallout of the New Frontier and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“But those achievements came at a cost, including the departure of much of the South from the Democratic coalition, the rise of a powerful right, and a stridency that has never left our politics since.”

Some of JFK’s insights also show the evolution—or, perhaps, the de-evolution—of politics from that generation to its current (disastrous) state. As Kennedy himself said on the art of being a politician, “I think you have to be able to communicate a sense of conviction and intelligence and rather, some integrity. That’s what you have to be able to do ... Those three qualities are really it.”

Unfortunately, one of the most humorous and humanizing comments by JFK wasn’t offered on either of the CDs that came with the book. In an exchange with his air force aide, Godfrey McHugh, about a snafu to do with a furniture purchase, he minced no words:

“McHugh: Why sir, this is obviously ...
JFK: Well, this is obviously a fuckup.
McHugh: That’s right.
JFK: That’s right.”

However, the sublime 1952 campaign song (“Do you want a man for president,/Who’s seasoned through and through?/But not so doggone seasoned,/That he won’t try something new.”) was included on a CD, to much amusement.

“Listening In” made for a rather quick read, but I found its unique perspective refreshing and educational. Being thrown into the proverbial middle of Camelot to witness JFK’s one-of-kind governing style and the massive potential that his approach and brilliance portended also made this a tremendous addition to my personal library.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

This One Hits Close To Home

Gettin' a wee bit dusty in here ...

Monday, February 18, 2013

Scooter & Hum’s Top Five Books of the Year 2012

Our sixth year of the Scooties was admittedly a slow one. It was a difficult and heart-rending year for me in many ways, one that saw me struggle to do the things that seem as natural to me as breathing: writing and reading. But I’m trying to get there.

Better late than never ...

#1: “Selected Stories,” by William Trevor

What I Wrote Then:
In “Selected Stories,” Trevor has created a fascinating inventory of case studies on the issue of malevolence, and how understated evil can take root in seemingly good people. He uses sparse, but dense and powerful prose to sketch characters that you simultaneously detest and empathize with. For me, the seemingly quiet pastoral life will never be looked at quite the same—a tribute to Trevor’s ability to evoke emotion with an understated mastery of sparsely impactful prose.

What I Say Now:
Trevor’s collection of stark-yet-powerful short stories evoke emotions with a soaring words-to-emotion ratio. His willingness to taken on the dark spots of normal folks’ souls amidst the pastoral Irish environment makes for wonderful—if draining—reading.

Passage to Remember:
“Nothing of love had been destroyed today: they took that with them as they drew apart and walked away from one another, unaware that the future was less bleak than it now seemed, that in it there still would be the delicacy of their reticence, and they themselves as love had made them for a while.”

#2: “A Week at the Airport,” by Alain de Botton

What I Wrote Then:

This fascinating book packs an unbelievably emotional wallop into just 107 pages -- an unmistakable gift for and from a writer charged with “just” detailing an airport. 

What I Say Now:
The premise undertaken by de Botton is difficult not to accept as underwhelming and unappealing. Somehow, some way, the author makes it not only work, but charges it with higher-level thinking and insights that elevates this form far past what would appear to be possible. On second thought, there is no “somehow, some way,” however; the answer lies in the simplest of solutions: brilliant writing.

Passage to Remember:
“We forget everything: the books we read, the temples of Japan, the tombs of Luxor, the airline queues, our own foolishness. And so we gradually return to identifying happiness with elsewhere: twin rooms overlooking a harbour, a hilltop church boasting the remains of the Sicilian martyr St Agatha, a palm-fringed bungalow with complimentary evening buffet service. We recover an appetite for packing, hoping and screaming. We will need to go back and learn the important lessons of the airport all over again soon.”

#3: “Ten Thousand Saints,” by Eleanor Henderson

What I Wrote Then:
All in all, I felt “Ten Thousand Saints” was a great tale, though not a great story ... But to be fair, Henderson employs some really beautiful, mature writing, and eminently quotable turns of phrase. The result is an evocative, humorous novel, a coming-of-age tale wrapped in a series of love stories, fraught with real emotion ... balanced by harsh reality.

What I Say Now:
Henderson’s ambitious novel may have taken on too many weighty themes, but the story is engrossing and the characters reel you in unflinchingly. It’s a book you didn’t want to put down and a tale you didn’t want to end—and that reality puts all minor faults in truest context.

And as an added bonus, the gifted author thanked me for the review on Twitter ...

Passage to Remember:
“Even when the baby was out of her ... she kept her eyes closed tight. She knew how easy it is to fall in love.”

#4: “Hunger Games,” by Suzanne Collins

What I Wrote Then:

My first impression was that the central theme mirrored a lot of aspects of human hunting for sport, as highlighted in Richard Bachman/Stephen Kings books “Running Man” and “The Long Walk,” as well as the Richard Connell short story “The Most Dangerous Game” (also called “Hounds of Zaroff”). There were even elements of “The Truman Show” and “1984,” with the constant surveillance and the “Big Brother” authority overhanging everything. Admittedly, these are more than worthy references and anchors on which to base your story.

What I Say Now:
Sure, Collins’s work drew heavily on the art of others. Sure, it was designed for a young-adult audience. Sure, the rest of the trilogy sort of fell apart as the story progressed. But this kickoff point was an engrossing, well-told, tremendous tale.

Passage to Remember:
“As I slowly, thoroughly wash the makeup from my face and put my hair in its braid, I begin transforming back into myself. Katniss Everdeen. A girl who lives in the Seam. Hunts in the woods. Trades in the Hob. I stare in the mirror as I try to remember who I am and who I am not.”

#5: “The Wind Through the Keyhole,” by Stephen King

What I Wrote Then:

Even after some 4,000 pages of the Dark Tower series, even this small morsel had me yearning for more. Will King yield to the masses and rattle off a handful of similar side tales to appease Faithful Reader? Time will tell, and as in King’s own words, “Time was a face on the water, and like the great river before them, it did nothing but flow.”

What I Say Now:
This way-too-but-understandably-short late entry to the “Dark Tower” epicness grabbed me by the collar and dragged me along, tinged with melancholy for characters missed and storylines unvisited in far too long. The narrative exists somewhat outside the “Dark Tower” plot, but in a clever way, leading to a hopeful optimism that more of the same could eventually be on the way.

Passage to Remember:
Time is a keyhole, he thought as he looked up at the stars. Yes, I think so. We sometimes bend and peer through it. And the wind we feel on our cheeks when we do—the wind that blows through the keyhole—is the breath of all the living universe.”

Editor’s Note:
In the “Others” category: “Zen in the Art of Writing,” by Ray Bradbury; “Catching Fire,” by Suzanne Collins; and “Mockingjay,” by Suzanne Collins.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Limerick Friday LXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXI: Boeheim Latest Coach To Go On A Douche Power Trip, Plus “The Walking Dead” Returns With A Stifled Yawn

The latest in coach-writer spats
Is Jim Boeheim vs. Andy Katz
Coaches act like dictatorial cunts
Call all criticisms witch hunts
Then expect media to give them a pass?!

The Pope didn’t want to stick around
With morality on such shaky ground
Crimes they tried to hide
On children’s souls they lied
Religion: Hypocrisy does abound

Cowards in crimson in packs
Jumping students for snacks
Morality, the Nicktator will preach
Hypocrisy and lying, he’ll teach
Will he act or ignore the harsh facts?

The Paternos want to have their say
Public opinion, they want their day
No excuses they can conjure
To make this any less somber
So shut the fuck up and go away

Andrea a motivational speaker
The prison just keeps looking bleaker
Rick’s mind continues to unfurl
Darryl left with Merle
“TWD” is back, but kinda meeker

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Deep Thoughts By No-Look McFadden: Episode 63

No one has ever seen one-time actor Damon Wayans and ESPN anchor Cole Wright in the same place at the same time. From “In Living Color” to “Sportscenter” is a long way down, Damon.

Some good writing here about the last day of an Internet startup. Having faced similar experiences, the emotion here is captured well.

Buzzfeed cataloged the 45 most powerful images of 2012, and I think #22 and #33 resonate the most with me.

Do they test for PEDs in the NBA? Because I bet it is hugely rampant in that league, but you never hear about it.

For some people, diarrhea is always on the menu. But what does it cost, really? And on a related note, sometimes a fortune cookie knows more about your digestive system than you do.

I think we may have finally discovered the true meaning of the iPhone. Spoiler alert: Elvis would’ve loved it.

So I found “The Crib Dribbler” terrifying on, oh, so many levels ...

I think the Irish have cornered the market on that perfect pick-me-up for the sniffles (and hell, let’s be honest, just about anything else): Irish flu shots.

“This is not the Tercel you’re looking for in the Food Lion parking lot.” No word on whether or not this is the back of the same car.

Arguably the most creative way to possibly feed the homeless. And proof positive that humor is truly capable of changing the world.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Limerick Friday LXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX: Just Harbaugh Being Harbaugh, Plus World’s Homeliest Fans Stay Classy

Unless you’re living in a hole
You heard about the Harbaugh Super Bowl
John put a banner in the rafter
Jim whined and bitched after
Jim’s a fraud and a douche, all told

Money changed every hand
Middle-aged “analysts” in demand
Stars and rankings, oh my
Expectations soar sky high
It’s Signing Day all across the land!

Drones save casualties and troops
But civil liberties? Oops
On this, mixed feelings
About these clandestine dealings
Can see merit in arguments by both groups

Titus Young stamped himself a fool
From the shallow end of the gene pool
Better than Megatron, he wrote
Like Randy Moss, thinks he’s the GOAT
The Rams took a chance on this tool?
No D and missed layups abounded
A furious comeback as State rebounded
A dead grandma chant from the geeks
Refs’ noses stuck in K’s butt cheeks
The recipe for the Pack getting pounded

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Bradbury’s “Zen In The Art Of Writing” Long On Motivation, Short On Advice

"Only this: if you are writing without zest, without gusto, without love, without fun, you are only half a writer ... For the first thing a writer should be is—excited. He should be a thing of fevers and enthusiasm. Without such vigor, he might as well be out picking peaches or digging ditches; God knows it’d be better for his health.”

Following the passing of Ray Bradbury, I discovered that he had written a book about writing. After deciding to read “Zen in the Art of Writing,” I learned that it was just a collection of essays he had written about writing over the course of 30 years. I found that it lacked the cohesion and organization of a “normal” book on writing, but it was still useful in some ways.

 The biggest message from Bradbury was that all content and inspiration for writing begins from experiences; that is, a large majority of his short stories emanated from childhood memories.

“ ... Every man will speak his dream. And when a man talks from his heart, in his moment of truth, he speaks poetry.”

“Writing is supposed to be difficult, agonizing, a dreadful exercise, a terrible occupation.
“But, you see, my stories have led me through my life. They shout, I follow. They run up and bite me on the leg—I respond by writing down everything that goes on during the bite. When I finish, the idea lets go, and runs off.”

He also stressed that one needs to come to the task of writing laughing and passionate, instead of viewing it as an arduous job. Bradbury also urged folks to write quickly and with a love of it.

“ ... Writing is survival. Any art, any good work, of course, is that. Not to write, for many of us, is to die.”

“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.”

This was a short-ish book and it was more inspirational and motivational than anything else—it was more “Get out and do it” rather than having any type of instruction or direction. There were a few sidebars about being brutally honest with your readers and the importance of precise editing that offered some insights, but what shone through most was Bradbury’s unexpected love of poetry (though I found his poems at the end to be middling) and his belief that science fiction is widely misunderstood and underrated.

“If you can find the right metaphor, the right image, and put it in a scene, it can replace four pages of dialogue.”

“Remember: Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations. Plot is observed after the fact rather than before. It cannot precede action. It is the chart that remains when an action is through. That is all Plot ever should be. It is human desire let run, running, and reaching a goal. It cannot be mechanical. It can only be dynamic.
So, stand aside, forget targets, let the characters, your fingers, body, blood, and heart do.”

The excellence of Bradbury’s storytelling is impossible to ignore ... yet I found the result of his attempt to offer insights into writing to be “just OK” as a book itself.

“Self-consciousness is the enemy of all art, be it acting, writing, painting, or living itself, which is the greatest art of all.”

Friday, February 01, 2013

Limerick Friday LXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXIX: Liz Lemon Closes The Show, Plus That Time I Became June Cleaver

Tracy and Kenneth funny, you know
But Jack Donaghy stole the show
A “30 Rock” farewell in the works
I blame the ratings-whore jerks
Just the latest great series to go

Shocked at a “hero,” I confess
Marino cheated on his wife at CBS
Put hush money in PA’s hand
Say it ain’t so, Dandy Dan
You’re just one more douche, I guess

Helped kill a coupla guys
Got deer antler spray in his eyes
Dances around like he has chlamydia
Proclaims the devil’s work in his media
Ray Lewis, just retire to a life of lies

Routed UNC with a quickness
Gameday on hand as a witness
Then choked again at UVa
Team full of tin men, I’d say
Come tourney time, scared shitless

At ungodly hours I rise
And look in four trusting eyes
Prep, feed, tuck and love
How the heck, I ask the above
Am I responsible for two little lives?