You can’t have it both ways

Posted in History, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 20, 2020 by macmystery
martin_luther_king

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” — Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

If you spent second one bitching about Colin Kaepernick or any NFL player kneeling, yet you’re posting quotes by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on your Facebook profile today, you’re full of shit.

And if you don’t understand why, you’re ignorant, too.

I’m sorry, that’s blunt. That’s not the most painful statement, though.

The most painful statement is that most who quote King once a year while opposing what he stood for the other 364 days know exactly what they are doing. And why they are doing it. And I don’t have to spell it out.

I would suggest today giving King’s Letter From A Birmingham Jail a read today. It’s truly one of the single-most important American writings in our history.

It’s something that shouldn’t be reserved for King’s birthday, but something we should be familiar with year round. But quite frankly, I’m sure it makes white people, particularly white Christians, uncomfortable. Particularly when you apply his premise to the current situation in our nation.

But reading, being conscious of and addressing King’s concerns contained within would make us all better people, better Americans and, most decidedly, better Christians.

 

 

Sporting another team’s colors

Posted in Sports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 19, 2020 by macmystery
MahomesTshirt

A Patrick Mahomes/Kansas City Chiefs T-shirt passed on to me by my friend Francie Szarek.

When you get deep into the NFL playoffs, or the playoffs in any sport, most folks’ teams are no longer in the mix.

Some people just kind of roll with it, enjoying the games. Some people have a betting interest.

And then I think there are a lot of fans that kind of pick favorites for the rest of the way. Sometimes because there’s a team they like a little that’s not their team, sometimes because of a particular player or players (I root for the teams that have the most Clemson guys on the roster), and then some are simply rooting AGAINST teams they can’t stand (see the Patriots).

Today, I’m wearing a Kansas City Chiefs/Patrick Mahomes T-shirt passed onto me to wear by my friend Francie Szarek. I think she’d admit she lives in a Pittsburgh Steelers household, but her husband’s Steelers are out and as a Kansas native, she’s all in on the Chiefs.

I was already pulling for the Chiefs. My Cowboys haven’t been in the NFC Championship in 20 years. And the Chiefs knocked the Houston Texans, my second favorite team, out last week. With three Clemson players on the roster, that makes them my favorite the rest of the way.

But wearing another team’s colors, gear etc., … do people do that? I can’t remember the last time I did it. Maybe Georgia Tech T-shirts in the 1980s? But I was a kid, and that happens.

Among my adult friends, any of them wearing another team’s stuff are an indication sex is or was happening. Obviously, today, I am an exception.

Do any other adults out there wear another team’s stuff?

Sweet Caroline!

Posted in Family, Sports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 19, 2020 by macmystery
Caroline

My niece Caroline is ready to step to the free-throw line.

Bah bah nah. That’s what come’s after Sweet Caroline, no?

If there’s any confusion, this  is most assuredly not about that popular Neil Diamond ditty. While I’ll admit it’s catchy, when you listen to the words, the song is actually quite creepy.

It is even more so when you consider it was allegedly written about a quite underage — barely even teenage — Caroline Kennedy. Think about that next time you’re singing along during the seventh-inning stretch at a shitty Boston Red Sox game.

Nope. This epic blog post is about Caroline, my niece, named after my mother, Carole.

Caroline is my sister Michele’s only child, born roughly a half a year after my own daughter, Ella. Unlike Ella, who is quite small, Caroline is big. Quite big.

I don’t mean this in a bad way. But she takes after her father in the fact that she’s tall. Quite tall. And getting taller.

At the ripe age of 11, she has already surpassed her mother in shoe size. I’m sure Michele welcomes this. It means she’ll no longer worry about Caroline stealing her shoes.

Problem is, it means she’ll be buying a lot more shoes. And the growing is far from over.

Caroline isn’t just big in stature, she has a big voice and it’s impossible not to notice she’s in the room. And issues with her ear she’s had since birth mean she’s sometimes unintentionally loud.

And my nickname for her? Lovingly, it’s Big Head.

But her size betrays her. When you’re with her, you feel like you’re in the room with another adult. It’s easy to forget, she’s only 11. Sometimes it’s tough to not be hard on her. Her size, unfairly, honestly changes your expectations.

But she’s a good kid. And something else she has that’s big — her heart.

Caroline has been playing church league basketball for a couple years now. I’ve managed to attend several games when in town.

Her coaches have tried to take advantage of her size — who wouldn’t. They want her to go to a spot, turn, and ask for the ball. When she gets it, they want her to turn and shoot. No dribble. Simply post up. There’s no one in her league who can contest her.

All this makes sense. The results? A few points — the games are low-scoring and her shooting has been suspect. And a lot of rebounds.

But not so many wins.

In fact, until last week … zero wins. Some close calls, but no bananas.

Basketball-wise, Caroline has some things to work on. I have told her a couple of times, the best thing she could do to improve is play as much basketball as possible.

There is a conflict, unfortunately. The things her coach asks her to do aren’t wrong. They are the things that give the team the best chance to win.

But she needs to improve her shooting, dribbling, passing, … and the mental aspects. And she won’t get better at those things if all she does is post up, catch the ball, turn and shoot. She can only get better at those things by doing them. She needs to play ball, a lot of it, and against kids her size, where she’s forced to do those things.

During this offseason, she made a decision to get more serious about basketball. A huge Clemson fan, she has made it her goal to play for the Tigers.

A realistic goal? Who knows. But she’s playing with a purpose.

She has actually gone and talked to the people who would be her coaches at the junior high and high school level about what she can best do to be ready to play for them.

Last week, I got the texts from my sister that I usually get during Caroline’s games. Except this time, they ended differently.

Trailing 5-4 late in the 4th quarter — with both buckets belonging to Caroline — a late score from the coach’s daughter gave her team a long-elusive 6-5 win.

Caroline finished with 4 points on 2-for-3 shooting with 11 rebounds and zero fouls.

“It feels good,” she texted me after her first win. “I played like I had a goal in life.”

I reminded her that her goal was good, but to be careful to enjoy the moment and have fun, even if the goal doesn’t work out.

“I know and I did but I still want to work on my goal.”

score

This week, Caroline and her team did it again. She scored 6 points — all on putbacks —  and her team won 8-4.

A winning streak. Who’d have thought it?

There’s really no point to all of this except that I love her. And some things seem to be breaking her way.

And there is no one happier for her than me. She, and her mama, deserve it.

 

Bound for the Rock

Posted in Family, Movies, TV with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 24, 2019 by macmystery
alcatraz-map
Tomorrow (later this morning, actually), I’m lucky enough to be heading to tour Alcatraz with friends, the Winston family and part of the Rothschild family. (Thank you, Will.)
 
I’ve seen the Rock from afar, but will actually get a close-up view for the first time, and it brings up a strange but treasured memory from when I was young.
 
There was a classic movie from 1962 called The Birdman of Alcatraz starring Burt Lancaster. It’s an old black-and-white picture about an inmate who worked with birds. But when I was a kid, maybe 7 or 8, I had no idea.
 
I’m sure we saw a promo for a re-run of the old movie on TBS or something. And somehow, my sister, then 5 or 6, and I crafted this character, the Birdman of Alcatraz. And we would take turns wearing a blanket around our neck as a cape and swooping around the den trying to get the other. Michele would say, “I’m a jail bird,” without any idea what that really meant. Just the things that kids do.
 
It’s goofy. But for whatever reason, all these years later, it has stuck in my head, like so many other seemingly meaningless things that, in all actuality, are the things you remember. And tomorrow when I’m seeing a famous prison for the first time, an unhappy place for a lot of people, I won’t be able to help but think about happy memories.

Memorial Day … why just one day?

Posted in History, Journalism, Politics with tags , , , , , , , on June 1, 2019 by macmystery
MikeMug

I look like a disgruntled something or other.

 

In my relatively new gig as the editor of The Island News, I wrote a column last week about the way we celebrate Memorial Day and honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice so that we might be free.

I figured I might as well start sharing my columns here. And this is the first one.

The premise is this … why do we celebrate our fallen patriots only one day a year? Shouldn’t we do better to honor them?

I make that argument here …

Henry Damn Kissinger!

Posted in History, Humor, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 11, 2019 by macmystery
HenryKissinger

Henry Kissinger once dated Murphy Brown.

I took the Jeopardy online test tonight. This marks the third year in a row I’ve taken the test in an effort to compete on the show.

I wish I could say I felt like I was progressing. The first time I took it was a disaster. Last year was better, but obviously not good enough to move on to the second step in the process.

This time, I feel like I may have gotten half of the questions. I just can’t see that being good enough.

Each year, there have been questions I knew the answer to that I have failed to get the correct response typed in the 15 seconds provided for each of the 50 questions. And I know I have just dropped the ball on questions.

Tonight, I simply could not remember Henry Kissinger’s name. I knew he was the answer. I could see his face. But the name was a blank.

So as a response, as I often do when I miss a question at trivia or don’t know something for some reason, I spent some time reading about Mr. Kissinger.

Most of it is and was old hat for me.

He was a German-born Jewish refugee who fled to the United States with his family when Hitler took power. Harvard educated. Advisor to Lyndon B. Johnson. Secretary of State for both Richard M. Nixon and Gerald Ford. Crafted détente with China. Supported coup in Chile. Supported Pakistan in Bangladesh war despite genocide. Won 1973 Nobel Prize for peace  process in Vietnam. Still alive.

But as I was reading about Kissinger on the wonderful World Wide Web, there were three facts I had never known that I found quite interesting.

  1. In his younger years, Kissinger was quite a ladies man before marrying. Among his celebrity girlfriends was Candice Bergen. That’s right, … Henry Kissinger dated Murphy Brown.
  2. After being drafted into the U.S. Army in 1943, Kissinger completed his basic military training at Camp Croft in Spartanburg, S.C. This fact may not be stunning for most, but I lived in Spartanburg for 15 years. Camp Croft was an important U.S. Army training post in World War II that has not existed for decades. It is gone. There are no remains. It’s a state park, and if you’ve been there, you’d be hard-pressed to prove thee was a military base there. I’m always a little surprised anytime I find out someone did their basic training there.
  3. And last but not least, in 1976, Kissinger became the first honorary member of the Harlem Globetrotters. An obvious choice, I think. If you had Kissinger in the pool, enjoy the spoils.

And that’s all I’ve got. I mean, it’s Henry Kissinger.

Back in the game

Posted in Family, Journalism with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 10, 2019 by macmystery

My first issue as editor of The Island News.

I posted something akin to this on Facebook a little more than a week ago, I guess, but I’m just getting around to posting it here.

The name of my blog is Raising Two Americans, a reference to my two kids. The subhead of sorts initially read “Tackling life as a husband, a father and a journalist.”

Funny thing is that in the almost 10 years since I started, everything about those headers has been shaken up.

I am not a husband. My wife informed me almost 5 years ago that she was no longer interested in being married. Of course, that’s no longer mentioned on the masthead above this post.

I am still a father, of course. How good of one I am, some people may call into question. But nonetheless, my children reside with their mother.

And, practically, I ceased being a journalist on Feb. 22, 2016 when I was laid off at my McClatchy newspaper. Though, in spirit, I have remained a journalist, even if I was not being paid as such.

(Working or not, I will gladly embrace the Donald Trump title “enemy of the people.” Opposing Trump is a badge of honor I will wear proudly until the day I leave this life.)

Currently, the top of the page reads “and former journalist.” It’s safe to say that’s no longer accurate.

I am now the editor of The Island News, a weekly newspaper that covers northern Beaufort County in South Carolina.

It pays but won’t pay the bills. It’s not a full-time gig. I’m still employed at Randel’s Lawnmowers Equipment Sales and Service to make ends meet. But it’s a nice bump.

And I’m back in the game.

The Island News is a typical small-town weekly. At the small end of the small-town spectrum.

There are a lot of community event pictures and rewritten press releases. But the new owners have goals of something bigger — filling the void left when the local paper, The Beaufort Gazette, basically abandoned its hometown.

And there is a lot of potential. But there is little staff.

Also, I’ll admit I like the job. Almost too much. While I needed a break after getting laid off, I will admit I may not have realized how much I missed the grind. It was time to get back.

Given the landscape, I’ll never get back into newspapers. Not in the big sense. But this job gives me the opportunity to play a constructive role in the community I have chosen to make my own.

And maybe one day, it’ll be more than a part-time gig.

But right now, it’s a positive. And given the way 2019 has gone for me personally, I needed it. It’s given me a little hope I have been lacking.

And a reason to change “former journalist” back to “journalist.”