Monday, May 11, 2009

How books seem to change as we get older

I remember reading S.E. Hinton’s novel That Was Then, This Is Now back around the summer of 1988 as my parents and I drove up to Oklahoma (Hinton’s home state) to help my grandmother get moved into a new home. I remember that summer Heart’s song These Dreams played on the radio a lot, so anytime I think of this short paperback that song inevitably plays in my mind.

Here’s the book in a nutshell: Bryon and Mark have been life-long friends; they are more like brothers. But as they age, they grow apart: Bryon grows to hate fights while Mark still likes them. The brother of Bryon’s girlfriend has a bad LSD trip, and when Bryon sees Mark is selling drugs, he decides to turn him in. It ends badly as Mark “disowns” Bryon and Bryon ends up breaking up with his girlfriend.

The book ends with Bryon visiting Mark in prison and realizing Mark’s a lost cause. (Mark’s character later dies in a subsequent Hinton novel Tex). Bryon says in the book’s final sentence, “I wish I was a teenager again, back when I had all the answers.”

When I finished reading, my 15-year-old mind couldn’t process such a dull, dark ending. What a stupid book, I thought.

Now, as an adult who’s matured both as a person and as a writer, I have a completely different take. Maybe it’s because I’ve learned that life’s seldom fair, or maybe it’s because I’ve grown to prefer dark endings over the happy ones. When I look back, I see it as a book of a young man who struggles with grasping adulthood and losing his adolescent innocence. He loses his “brother” and his girlfriend and sees the life of an innocent boy ruined.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Dodging a bullet

I don't know if I mentioned this...

A few months ago, I received a phone call from a man whom I'd e-mailed my resume and had called numerous times about writing for his newspaper. He wanted to interview me and possibly offer me a job. Well, I'd read a few issues, talked it over with my wife and decided to pass. Tough decision, since I was in need of work.

Now, it looks like a brilliant choice on my part. One man I know at work knows this would've-been boss and tells me the boss has a habit of bouncing checks and not paying his employees.

Obama tries to clarify lipstick statement

I've always thought it interesting that the Chinese word for "lipstick", kou hong, translates into English literally as "mouth red". But I digress...

...Fresh off accusations that he insulted Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin by talking about pigs and lipstick, Barack Obama went on the over-the-hill David Letterman's show to clarify his comments. Nobama said that he was talking about John McCain's policies being a pig and that, even with lipstick, they would still be like President Bush's.

That's understandable, I suppose. It must be nice to have an audience like that to be able to clarify one's comments. I wonder if Letterman ever allowed Dan Quayle time to go on his show and explain his side of the "potato" incident.

Kwame Kilpatrick's future

Former mayor of Detroit Kwame Kilpatrick has said he may run for office again someday when his probation is over in about five years.

Sadly, there are people out there stupid enough to vote for that clown.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Random blog postings

...Haven't seen Prison Break and quit watching halfway through last season. I liked the concept, although a friend who's a prison guard said it was very unrealistic. They should've ended it after the second season...

...Mr. Drudge reports that the Democrats have dispatched lots of people to Alaska to try to dig up dirt on Sarah Palin. What is this? Panic mode, perhaps. Americans must be thinking that an underexperienced vice president is far better than an underexperienced president...

...No, the racists in America are not the whites like me who won't vote for Barack Obama (my reasons for not voting for Nobama has nothing to do with his skin color). The racists are those who are voting for Obama because he's black...

...So, Oprah has decided that she won't have Sarah Palin on her show until after the election. I would love to see Palin tell the Wannabe Kingmaker that she's not doing her show. Ever. Sorry, but over the years I've grown to detest Oprah...

...Ahhh, writing again for a living. Bliss...

...The other night, my wife and I watched a movie called Waitress. Brilliant, absolutely wonderful film. Could've done without the affair. Otherwise, a hilarious movie that reminded me of one of my indie favorites, Searching for Wooden Watermelons. Sadly, the director Adrienne Shelly has since died. In the meantime, we're stuck with useless, overrated directors like Kevin Smith is still around?
Don't like my take on Kevin Smith? Feel free to go to another blog...

...I'm a skeptic when it comes to polls, so I'm wondering if I should be too excited about the polls that show that John McCain is starting to take a decent lead over Barack Obama...

...In the past year or so that I've been relying more on freelance writing income, I have developed a limited client base of those for which I write for free. Limited. Among them are a Christian client and a blog about my favorite team, the Dallas Cowboys. In the meantime, I operate on this principle: I have bills to pay and a living to earn. If you want a writer but don't want to/can't pay them, please look elsewhere and brace yourself for substandard work...

Britney Spears and the VMA

No, I didn't watch the Video Music Awards. We don't have MTV and, frankly, we have no desire to get it. Call it Mundane Television.

I am glad to see that Britney Spears is getting her life back together.

As for that loser who hosted the VMA, please face reality and realize that you're as funny as a migraine. I won't post your name here, because you don't deserve it. But I will say this: as a comedian you're beyond pathetic. You make Pauly Shore seem like Bill Cosby. If you don't like America, you're more than happy to stay in England. Preferably in a landfill.

That is all.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Palin's speech

Alas, I didn't get to watch it last night. My wife and I were watching a movie and every time we took a break (which was every 20 minutes), no channels that came in seemed to be carrying it. I was disappointed, since NBC saw fit to ignore a Fred Thompson speech so that windbag Tom Brokaw could bloviate. Oh well.

The comments I've heard have been pretty good so far. The soundbytes sounded articulate and impressive. Foxnews (for what it's worth) reported that when her teleprompter quit working, Palin never skipped a beat and kept going. Here's the speech in its entirety.

Here's one segment of her speech I really liked (the ... represent breaks between applause):

"Well, I'm not a member of the permanent political establishment. And…I've learned quickly these last few days that, if you're not a member in good standing of the Washington elite, then some in the media consider a candidate unqualified for that reason alone..(AUDIENCE BOOS)..But — now, here's a little newsflash. Here's a little newsflash for those reporters and commentators: I'm not going to Washington to seek their good opinion. I'm going to Washington to serve the people of this great country...Americans expect us to go to Washington for the right reason and not just to mingle with the right people. Politics isn't just a game of clashing parties and competing interests. The right reason is to challenge the status quo, to serve the common good, and to leave this nation better than we found it...No one expects us all to agree on everything, but we are expected to govern with integrity, and goodwill, and clear convictions, and a servant's heart. And I pledge to all Americans that I will carry myself in this spirit as vice president of the United States."

BTW, if you or someone you know is familiar with a videoblogger on CNN who kissed his hands like he'd just eaten a tasty meal and spoke of how Palin will get killed in the debate by Joseph Biden, please have him e-mail me. I'd like to be able to chat with him after the debate. I get this feeling that the gent is in for a big surprise.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Hey, People Magazine...

...what's with the endless articles on Barack Obama and all the celebrities who are endorsing him? Are you assuming that all your readers are voting for Nobama? Would it kill you to run a story about John McCain once in a while? Please?

And, please, can we have one issue that doesn't feature pages devoted to Brangelina, Suri Cruise? Please?

Democrats throw temper tantrum over Joe Lieberman's support of John McCain

Spare me, New Mexico governor Bill Richardson. Spare me, Senate Majority Leader (for now) Harry Reid. The two aren't very happy with former Democratic 2000 running mate and current independent Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman's Republican National Convention speech supporting John McCain for the White House.

Remember? When Lieberman ran again for his senate seat, the Democratic party cut him off and endorsed his opponent. Their way of saying, "You're too conservative and you support the War on Terror. Get lost."

Lieberman ran as an indie candidate and won that race. Isn't he entitled to support whom he chooses?

Excerpts of what Sarah Palin will be saying tonight

As posted by Matt Drudge:

Excerpts: Remarks by Alaska Governor Sarah Palin Vice Presidential Nominee to Address the 2008 Republican National Convention

Wed Sep 03 2008 19:12:27 ET

SAINT PAUL, Minn. - This evening Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican Party’s vice presidential nominee, will address the 2008 Republican National Convention. Excerpts from the governor’s remarks:

On her experience as a public servant: "I had the privilege of living most of my life in a small town. I was just your average hockey mom, and signed up for the PTA because I wanted to make my kids’ public education better. When I ran for city council, I didn’t need focus groups and voter profiles because I knew those voters, and knew their families, too. Before I became governor of the great state of Alaska, I was mayor of my hometown. And since our opponents in this presidential election seem to look down on that experience, let me explain to them what the job involves. I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a ‘community organizer,’ except that you have actual responsibilities."

On why she is going to Washington, D.C.: "I’m not a member of the permanent political establishment. And I’ve learned quickly, these past few days, that if you’re not a member in good standing of the Washington elite, then some in the media consider a candidate unqualified for that reason alone. But here’s a little news flash for all those reporters and commentators: I’m not going to Washington to seek their good opinion - I’m going to Washington to serve the people of this country."

On energy policies that the McCain-Palin administration will implement: "Our opponents say, again and again, that drilling will not solve all of America’s energy problems - as if we all didn’t know that already. But the fact that drilling won’t solve every problem is no excuse to do nothing at all. Starting in January, in a McCain-Palin administration, we’re going to lay more more nuclear plants...create jobs with clean coal...and move forward on solar, wind, geothermal, and other alternative sources. We need American energy resources, brought to you by American ingenuity, and produced by American workers."

On John McCain: "Here’s how I look at the choice Americans face in this election. In politics, there are some candidates who use change to promote their careers. And then there are those, like John McCain, who use their careers to promote change."

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Radio host Mancow says a mouthful

Radio host Mancow (real name: Matthew Erich Muller) really said a mouthful on his show today. I enjoy listening to him even though he's a libertarian going third party and I don't agree with libertarians on several issues. (I think the whole logic behind drug legalization is absolutely insane and would open a goliath of a Pandora's Box). Be that as it may, Mancow was talking about how the church he attends is mostly black. Many of them are very conservative: limited government, low taxes, pro-life, pro-Baby Born Alive Act (the one that prohibits doctors from finishing the job on an aborted baby that survives), pro-military, pro-War on Terror.

Yet, they tell Mancow that they plan to vote for Barack Obama?


"Because he's black."

Forgive me for asking, but how is this not racist?

Anybody care to try to explain this nonsense to me?

I'd really like to see how this mentality is really any better than the KKK guys who plan to vote for McCain because McCain's white and Obama's black (even though Obama has a "typical white person" grandmother).

Obama versus Palin in terms of experience

While listening today to one of my favorite talk shows, the Laura Ingraham Show, Laura played a soundbyte of Barack Obama questioning Sarah Palin's experience. Palin had a budget of $12 million a year while an Alaskan mayor, Obama said, saying that his campaign spends several times that each month.

As I listened, I thought two things. First, ....and your point is what, Nobama? Second, Why are you bragging about how much money you spend?

I suppose it could be argued that Obama's merely talking about his responsibility of overseeing a large sum of money, but it just came across to me as elitist. To be honest, I think both could have more experience. But when push comes to shove, I'd much rather have an underexperienced vice president than an underexperienced president. After all, didn't Obama's now-running mate Joe Biden say that the Oval Office is not the place for on-the-job training?

Besides, I'm trying to understand how running a presidential campaign qualifies you more for the presidency than Palin's experience as mayor, governor and commissioner qualifies her to serve as vice president.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Excerpt of my latest column, sent to the Beeville Bee-Picayune

Richard’s Ramblings

McCain’s gamble on Palin just might pay off

By Richard Zowie

Just a few weeks ago, I thought for certain that Republican John McCain would pick Mitt Romney as his running mate as he pursues the White House. After all, Romney was a good fit. He was born in Michigan and served as governor of Massachusetts. Both have been democratic strongholds in the past few elections. Romney is also considered to be a good businessman credited for his handling of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Yes, some conservatives were leery of Romney because he’s a Mormon. I ended up asking a family member, a former Mormon, what they thought. Their response: as long as he’s right on the moral issues, they would support him.

So, while perusing the news on the web, I started to get suspicious when they reported that Alaska governor Sarah Palin had boarded a flight for Ohio (where Senator McCain was to announce his running mate).

“Who’s Sarah Palin?” I asked myself as I googled her when her running mate status was confirmed. Republican. Very fiscally conservative. Pro-life. Pro-family. Pro-drilling in Alaska. In her nearly-two years as Alaska’s governor, she became extremely popular for her cutting of wasteful government spending, including getting rid of the former governor’s state-purchased jet that she felt was unnecessary........

Van Halen not happy with John McCain's use of their song

Van Halen is the latest band to tell GOP presidential nominee-to-be John McCain to not use their song in his campaign. McCain had used the Sammy Hagar-era song "Right Now".

I was worried that Van Halen, like Jackson Browne, John Mellencamp, Bruce Springsteen and Rage Against the Machine, was another one of those mindless liberal bands. Turns out, Van Halen is not endorsing either candidate and simply prefers their music not to be used for political purposes.

I know from her book Losin' It that Eddie Van Halen's ex-wife Valerie Bertinelli learns to the left. Her name also appears as a Nobama contributor, unfortunately. However, former frontman Hagar is heavily rumored to be a Republican due to his contributions to GOP candidates--including President George W. Bush in 2004. Then there's one-time frontman Gary Cherone who's outspokenly pro-life and even wrote two public letters to Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder criticizing his abortion stance.

How reliable are polls?

As of Labor Day, two polls have McCain up by two while another has Obama up by 7.

I was once on Zogby’s site and he has this section where he is asked how a sampling of hundreds to a few thousands can accurately portray what millions and millions of voters say. His response:

“It’s pure probability and statistics. The same theory is involved as when you take a blood test and the clinician draws only a small sample rather than draining all the blood out of your body.”

Considering how different opinions can vary in even the same state, it makes me wonder if this is really an accurate analogy. Makes me think if there was a mathematical formula in probability that was this effective, all the polls would be accurate. Or do the varying polls show that polling isn’t an exact science?

Just asking.