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Showing posts from June, 2015

Dreams of Weldon

I had the dream again last night. It's been recurring at least on a monthly basis, taking place primarily in the small town of Weldon, IL, at the former home of my great-uncle and great-aunt Robert and Betty. The plot of the dreams are always loosely the same: I am there at the house. Robert and Betty are not. Sometimes, I have invited folks from Champaign to come visit the abode in Weldon (roughly 40 minutes away), and am hosting a party there.
The house is almost always bigger in the dreams than in reality. In the real world, it's a fairly standard structure. There's a living room, main bedroom on the ground floor, kitchen, bathrooms, front porch, upstairs area with more bedrooms, and then.... an addition was built on (with help from my dad), and it consisted of a huge family room and attached garage. A wooden porch runs along the back of the house. I remember it was home to a plethora of stray kitties, as Betty would always gladly put out food for them. Behind the hous…

Ever Decreasing Circles

Musical artist Taylor Swift has been in the news, along with Apple, for making waves in regards to the latter's forthcoming streaming music service. For its first three months, Apple Music is going to let folks try their service for free, and was planning to not pay artists any royalties during this free trial period. After said period, folks would have to pay $10 a month to keep the service and then artists would be paid some royalties. Swift complained and, well, Apple relented. Artists will now receive income during the three month free trial period.
I mention the Apple/Swift debacle because it brings to mind, yet again, an issue that remains all too prevalent in our society -- paying folks very little (or nothing) for their work. And I don't just mean musical artists. We see this everywhere, from fast food workers to folks in China making our phones, from kids in sweatshops making our clothes to people making the music we enjoy listening to. People seem to want something …

Sister, You've Been On My Mind

"Come with me, Matt. Your dad has something he wants to tell you."
Mom made the quiet statement when I was roughly twelve years old, coming to get me from another room in our brick house on John St. Several things went through my mind at the time: I hadn't done anything bad recently, so it couldn't be that, could it? The notion of divorce was one that always lurked in the back of my head, though it wouldn't become realized for another year. As mom led me into their bedroom (an odd choice of venue), I honestly couldn't think of what it was dad had to talk with me about.
Entering the room that he and my mother shared, I found Lewis sitting, looking more solemn than he typically did. Through lots of obvious angst, pauses and sighs, he told me that I had two older half-sisters, Valarie and Angie. They were from a previous marriage, his first. You can imagine how this news might shake someone who, for their initial twelve years of life, only knew of his father bei…

Divide and Conquer

The Internet is aflutter with news of how Rachel Dolezal, head of the NAACP chapter of Spokane, Washington, is not African-American. The uproar isn't -- we're told -- caused by Dolezal's race, more that she seems to have actively promoted herself as black, all the while being a person of Caucasian heritage. While the deception is noteworthy, I can't help but feel there's some genuine disdain for a woman who isn't of color heading a chapter of the NAACP. Perhaps I'm too cynical?
It is unclear what drives a person of one ethnicity to go to great lengths to pass as another but, more than anything, I feel sorry for anyone who does. It's obviously they're unhappy with themselves in some regard. Whatever caused Rachel Dolezal to pull an opposite of Soul Man, I hope she is able to find some sort of peace and self-worth that isn't derived from ethnic origins. Indeed, letting our ethnicity consume our identities would seem to be folly of the highest ord…

The Real World

Perhaps a year or so ago, I was standing in line at a local Subway restaurant, and the lady ahead of me was chatting with the guy behind the counter. It seemed to be one of those customer/server relationships that had developed over time -- not too close, yet friendly enough. The employee excitedly told the woman about a new job he was starting in the near future, to which the woman cheerily responded, "It'll be nice for you to have a real job!"
It's not an exaggeration to say that there was a palpable pause after the woman made her remark. The guy behind the counter blinked a couple times, his face went slack, and then he responded with a meek, "Yeah, it will." I, myself, had done a sharp intake of breath. The customer seemed oblivious to any of this, and went on about the business of completing her order, even going on to wish the employee "Good luck!" in his new venture.
The Subway Incident, as I've jokingly dubbed it, was notable for a co…

Deep Impact

The concept of home video entertainment is forever woven into a physical reference point for me. True, I've 'moved with the times' and listen to most music digitally these days, but somehow cannot find the ability to enter the 21st century and watch movies via streaming. I'll stick with DVDs and Blu-rays, thank you very much. This is why I always took such comfort in the existence -- despite the odds -- of That's Rentertainment DVD/Blu-ray rental store, nestled in a small(ish) space in the campus town of our fair twin cities. Alas, that is soon to be no more. After 30 years, the store will be closing later this summer.
It was three decades ago that my parents brought home our first taste of home video entertainment. They situated the VCR (VHS, not Betamax) next to the television set, and had rented a few videos to watch. For them, Alfred Hitchcock movies. For me, some episodes of the Transformers cartoon series. It boggled my mind that it was possible to watch Tra…