Destroying Words

There was once a book, one that I learned about in school. Granted, when I first went to school back in the 1960s, the world was a different place. While it was beginning to shift and change, language was still fairly static. That’s no longer the case.

George Orwell wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four, or 1984 in 1949, which compared to when I began school could be considered the Dark Ages. The name he was given at birth (in 1903) was Eric Blair. I bet you didn’t know that.

Big Brother is watching!

Big Brother is watching!

I used to have a blog called Words Matter. I named it that because when I was learning words and how to write them, they really did matter.

Orwell’s book had a profound effect on me when I first read it during my high school years, during the first term of a president named Reagan.  I’ve subsequently read 1984 at least 15 times since then. Continue reading

The News Biz

It’s nearly impossible to find unfiltered news coming from the driveby sources. The New York Times runs a story on Hillary Clinton’s emails, then the Old Gray Lady furiously backpedals from it. The Washington Post tells us that the reason that Donald Trump is surging in the polls is due to stupid, white people. So much for our vaunted “fourth estate” and its objectivity.

News isn't what it used to be.

News isn’t what it used to be.

There’s a reason why many conservatives don’t trust the media, citing its liberal bias. That suspicion of mainstream news isn’t limited entirely to those on the right, either. Continue reading

Brighten Up

There’s no shortage of depressing topics to tackle on any given day. For whatever reason of late, the news seems worse than ever.  Even our local stories have been angling towards the negative.

I was thinking about offering my two cents worth about our “fiscally conservative” governor granting raises ranging from seven to 23 percent to a group of his administrators. Then, like nearly everyone else, I’ve gotten sucked into the Marcy’s Diner news and Facebook vortex. But alas, the thought of stirring up controversy on a perfect Friday morning during the height of Maine’s tourist season is just too freakin’ depressing.

So instead, I’m touching down today on talk about female empowerment and volunteerism. Can’t get in any trouble with that, can you? Continue reading

Parenting Skills

Whatever happened to that tried and true, time-tested axiom about children—that they were to be “seen and not heard”? Apparently, it went out the window with many other common sense conventions from yesteryear.

On Saturday, a local restaurant owner basically told two stupid parents unable to control their toddler that it wasn’t acceptable for their kid to scream and carry on for 40 minutes in her restaurant. And of course, social media—whose biggest claim to fame is that it gives a platform to dolts with opinions not warranting the light of day—has been flooded in typical lynch mob-style, with tirades from “internet moms” against her via Facebook.

Screaming kids ruin restaurant dining.

Screaming kids ruin restaurant dining.

Note to parents (yes, you doltish “internet moms”) of young children; your kids aren’t the center of my universe, especially if I’m eating in a restaurant and your kid’s acting like a brat. Address the boorish behavior like an adult, or take the kid out of the restaurant. Don’t leave it up to the owner of a busy diner to deal with your lack of parenting skills. Continue reading

The Speed of Information

Technology, despite all the tributes, alms, as well as religious devotion delivered via never-ending paeans to its superiority and ability to make us a nation better than ever before, simply enhances our downward drift. Leading the way for the obeisant is social media—Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and who knows what else.

I have a 94-year-old man that I spend two mornings a week with. He suffers from macular degeneration and is legally blind. I read him the Wall Street Journal, and some local news from either the Bangor Daily News, or the Portland Press Herald. I then wrap up my visit with something history-related from a book we’re working our way through.

He was a successful businessman, heading up a company with more than 100 employees for more than 50 years with branches across the U.S. Like many men of his WWII generation, he cultivated a daily habit of reading America’s business paper. I mention all this to say that regularly consulting the WSJ is probably going to flavor an occasional blog post, or two. Like the following story. Or should I say, a hoax, a false flag, about Twitter. Continue reading

An Honest Conversation

So you want to talk about the road to success, eh? Seriously? Success often masquerades as Lady Luck. Finding the pathway that leads to the doorway of success isn’t simply maintaining the status quo, either.

How are you at managing adversity? Let’s talk when your prospects seem hopeless, and the light coming from the other end of the tunnel is most likely a train. That’s the kind of conversation I’m interested in having.

It’s never easy going through a rough patch. I think it becomes more difficult during these social media-influenced times, when it seems like everyone else is having a ball, and you’re sitting at home, alone, with a can of cheap beer and some second-rate movie from 1937 on the idiot box. When the losing streak stretches out for weeks and then months, being resilient is a requisite, but it sure as hell isn’t easy getting up each and every day and turning your frown into a big fat smile for the doubters to see.

And just like that, someone throws you a bone—or two—and the funk comes to an end.

Life’s funny like that.

At the Festival

I’ve probably written more about Moxie than any Mainer. I might even be approaching Frank Potter’s legendary output—who knows. Clearly, given that Mr. Potter’s Moxie canon is print-based and pre-interwebs, we know that he wasn’t Moxie blogging.

When I rewind back to 2004, the memories are still fresh of the late Sue Conroy, convincing me to take on the PR and marketing that year, joining the small band putting on the Moxie Festival. That was merely year 22 (if my Moxie math is right) of what’s now become the 33rd running of one of Maine’s, if not the nation’s, most unique and intriguing summer festivals. What began with 13 postcards and 500 people (according to one version) blossomed into a festival attracting upwards of 50,000 people to Central Maine and the sleepy town of Lisbon Falls. Continue reading

Rally Round the Hype

It’s Tuesday morning posting time, and I need a topic. I guess Bernie Sanders is as good as it gets right now.

In these late days of empire, Lady Liberty’s political process has become just as dysfunctional and corrupt as all of her other assorted accoutrements and jangling bangles. Take for instance the four-year political cycle for president—as soon as the new occupant’s wife changes the drapes at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, it’s time to start thinking about the next election, shaking down voters for cash.

Of course, Mr. Obama can’t have a third term (thanks to Mr. Roosevelt). If he could, he’d be out doing what he does best, giving speeches and campaigning. Instead, we’re forced to endure the contrast of just plain tired,the old, and the hilarious—between Hillary, Bernie, and the ever-expanding Republican field—a full 17 months out from our next American coronation.

"Hello, Portland, Maine!!" (Troy Bennet photo/Bangor Daily News)

“Hello, Portland, Maine!!” (Troy Bennet photo/Bangor Daily News)

Continue reading

A Flag is Just a Flag

Painted-on flag; Georgetown, Maine.

Painted-on flag; Georgetown, Maine.

Flags come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Flags are imbued with symbolism and meaning, too.

Some people fly their chosen flags. Flags can be objects of veneration, instilling in some nationalistic fervor.

I’m not really much for flags, although flags painted on rocks are kind of cool.

Happy July 4th!