Sunday, November 30, 2014

I Couldn't Help but Move to the Groove

Time to end this month on a high fact, a bunch of them.

Those notes came out of a venue called the Waiting Room (6212 Maple St., 68104; 402 884-5353), where today, from 2:00 PM to 6:00 PM, the featured artist was...actually, a bunch of featured artists.

The performers were the students and teachers from Omaha's very own School of Rock.

And man, they cooked!  

What attracted me to the outing was the fact that one of the rockers is young Ben Rosenberger, the drummer in our church's praise band. In fact, Ben's the praise band's youngest far.

School of Rock Omaha's outing had a theme: "Rock Timeline."

And you bet your blue suede shoes the young rockers started out with some 1950s stuff. (They really had it going by the time I finally arrived at the Waiting Room...2:12 PM. So...if the SOR students played and sang "Blue Suede Shoes," I missed it.)

Now, I did get to hear "Hound Dog," "In the Still of the Nite," "(We're Gonna) Rock around the Clock," and "All I Have to Do Is Dream," among other items. [By the way...Ben played tambourine on "(We're Gonna) Rock around the Clock."]  

And right from the time I got there, I found myself toe-tapping...and/or dancing to the beat. Just couldn't resist.

Another thing about the whole operation was that the School of Rockers formed five or six different bands (Ben himself was in a couple of 'em). As a result, every student got to tackle a different decade in rock...and that piece of strategy put the accent on versatility.

It all became clear when "Rock Timeline" moved into the 1960s.  

School of Rock versions of "Little Sister," "You Really Got Me," and "House of the Rising Sun" got my attention.

And "Sugar Sugar" (as sung by a six-year-old girl who sang lead in a half-male, half-female band) and "(Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay" (in which a male keyboard player and a female lead singer featured on a number before that swapped roles so that he ended up singing lead while she played the keys) really stood out for me.

When the show barreled into the 1970s, I was still movin' and groovin' to the music of the SOR gang. Matter of fact, I found myself singing along to songs like "Superstition" and "My Sharona." And I really enjoyed Ben's drumming in "Psycho Killer."  

Speaking of drumming...two little boys and a little girl (all three of 'em playing drums as well as handling the vocals) turned in a "We Will Rock You" that set the house on its ear. (Well, I like to think so!)  

We also got a rousing version of "YMCA." (Where else can you hear this 1979 Village People classic done as 100% power pop?)

The school's Rock 101 class drove the proceedings into the 1980s; the first song in the set was "Should I Stay or Should I Go." (I got a kick out of this version, too.)

"Just What I Needed" turned out to be something I needed as well. 

A few songs later came the same band that turned in "Sugar Sugar." This time, they came back for a fine, fine version of "Billie Jean."

Well, the timeline marched to a halt with the 1990s, where the set included songs like "When I Come Around."
In this set, every band that performed during the show did an encore song.

Tell you one thing: Next time Omaha's School of Rock takes to the bar called the Waiting Room, I want to be there...I can't wait to see what Ben and Co. come up with next!

That's NOT Entertainment!

Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, Chet Huntley, David Brinkley, Howard K. Smith, and so many other pioneering television journalists would be turning over in their graves if these legends could find out just how their current legatees are handling this business of newsgathering.   

Sorry, folks, but I just don't see news as entertainment.

News is news...period.  

The way the TV arms of this country's six biggest media companies followed this month's recent national events- starting with the 2014 midterm elections- soured me on continuing to watch their offerings, be they on these companies' broadcast networks or on their cable divisions. 

That's more Hardball. No more 60 Minutes. Since the cable provider I've hooked up with dropped C-SPAN and C-SPAN 2 from the provider's basic lineup, the only meat I'm going to get when I turn on my TV set will come from PBS. 

Nobody else on the tube today is performing the role of watchdog.

TV reporters working for the commercial media firms aren't asking the tough questions...questions that help viewers get better informed.  

For instance, the TV reporters (and no telling how many other journalists in other media), while watching the Nuts (oops, I mean Republicans) retake the US Senate and solidify their hold on the US House, could've asked the new lawmakers- the ones vowing to get the Affordable Care Act repealed- to disclose their own replacement(s) for this law they hate so much. (Never mind that the components of the ACA were originally cooked up by GOP minds!)

These same journalists could've asked the Democrats seeking (and unable to gain) office to explain running away from their party's post-1933 accomplishments...let alone its post-2009 achievements.  

And the voters who just got through setting foot at their neighborhood polling places could've themselves used tougher questions...especially the voters in Florida, Kansas, Michigan, and Wisconsin. (People in those four states complained bitterly about their governors- Republicans all- misusing them. But that didn't stop those same voters from reelecting all four of them to second terms.)

Too much cowardice going on on the air...and I don't want to be in on it anymore.

In the meantime, I'll continue to read newspapers...and I'll continue to get right here on this Internet and go to the online versions of those papers, as well as sites like and   

Online, you're not as likely to run into the cowardice that's prevented correspondents from Big Media from asking John Boehner to explain not taking Steve King or Mo Brooks to task for their racist comments...or asking this country's Speaker of the House to talk about that meeting he and Mitch McConnell attended hours after Barack Obama's first inauguration. (You know, the meeting where McConnell, Boehner, and other key Republicans got together and vowed: "We're not going to work with this 'N-word!'")

And then there's the grand jury's decision in Ferguson, MO, where twelve people decided to let Darren Wilson go free. 

These last three-going-on-four months, the only outlet in which I saw any mention of the role White privilege has played in Wilson's murder of Michael Brown (it wasn't enough to take Brown to the police station) 

Would a reporter from CBS or CNN still have a job after addressing White privilege in America?  

Yes, Big Media, it's been quite a ride all these years of watching the news unfold on my (or my mom's or anybody else's) TV set. Lots of history being made.

But when your reporters aren't encouraged to ask tougher questions than the ones out there, and it's all because you're more concerned about profit and about glitz than about truth, it's time for me to get off the ship.

When I watch news on TV, I don't want to be entertained.

I want to be informed.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Mourning in America

Did you vote this past Tuesday (if not sooner)? 

I did.

At a little after 12:00 Noon, I arrived at my neighborhood polling place (Omaha's Dundee Presbyterian Church) and spent the next 45 minutes filling out my four-page ballot, being careful to fill the circles completely. (Lots of candidates and lots of special ballot issues this time.)

Yes, I got home just in time to rest a little bit before going off to my factory job. Man, I was still fired up about having voted.

When I got home from work and turned on my TV set to find out just how this year's US midterm election went, I was furious.  

MSNBC's and CNN's election-coverage hosts were talking about how the Nuts had just snagged complete control of Congress.

That's right. I said "Nuts."   

The Associated Press had reported that America's voters, as a group, were in a funk over the state of the nation's economy. The online article that AP reporter turned in talked about how a sizable number of electors were displeased over the way Barack Obama had been doing things lately. 

What's more, the report stated that, in general, those who cast ballots this past Tuesday didn't like the leadership of either major political party. 

That didn't stop most voters from giving the Nuts enough seats to give them 52 Senate seats all together when the 114th Congress convenes on 1-7-2015. To top it all off, voters enabled the Nuts to extend their lead in the House. 

That's right. I said "Nuts." (After all, Republican leaders had chased the moderates out of that party...leaving the Nuts to dominate it.) 

The way I tell it, voters had no good reason to give the so-called GOP control of the US Senate while giving the party more US House seats than it's presently got. 

Voters: You really believe the people who shut down this country's government and who continually ignore your needs because you don't have Karl Rove's or David Koch's or Charlie Koch's money actually have your back?

This past Tuesday, you poured gasoline on an already-raging fire.

And when John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, and Co. get through, we're all going to pay. 

You've signaled that you've given up on this country. That's the only way I see it. 
Today's Republicans- especially the Washington ones- have already made it clear that they don't care about passing jobs bills or infrastructure bills or immigration-reform bills or stronger gun-control laws or raising the minimum wage (let alone making the Affordable Care Act- whose guts came from Republican minds to begin with- better).

They only care about getting Obama out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

It's a question of time when it comes to how fast McConnell will call for a vote to repeal the ACA...and another one to impeach the nation's first non-Caucasian chief executive (simply because he's non-Caucasian).

You voters, as a whole, let that happen...and so did the ones who wouldn't darken a polling place this week.

Tuesday night, a coworker at my job asked some of her fellow crewmembers if they'd gone to the polls that day. 

It HURT to hear some of those coworkers say "no," let alone hear their excuses: "I didn't study up." "I didn't know it was Election Day." "I forgot." 

Not even the presence of a minimum-wage-increase initiative here in Nebraska could get those folks to the polls. (Luckily, this state's lowest wage, now $7.25 per hour, will go $9.00 an hour by 2016.)  

And what about the Wisconsinites who've been complaining about Gov. Scott Walker's antics...only to let him get back in? And the Kansans who've taken their governor, former US Sen. Sam Brownback, to task over his gutting education funds in the Sunflower State...only to reelect him anyway?

These people had better not complain the next time their governors throw rank-and-file citizens under the bus!  

Now I've got a message for the Democrats who lost a couple of days ago (especially the ones seeking national office or trying to upgrade their national gigs):


Democrats keep throwing away all sorts of votes in midterm elections because these people just won't stand up for their accomplishments. For instance, instead of sticking up for the ACA, too many Donkeys ran away from it! 


Alison Lundergan Grimes really didn't deserve to trade her secretary-of-state-in-Kentucky job for a US Senate seat from the Bluegrass State. It hurts to say that...but when Grimes didn't have the guts to say she voted for Obama (in at least one leap year), she probably lost a ton of support.

And Bruce Braley ultimately cut his own throat by saying that Chuck Grassley was just a farmer without a law degree. Not even an endorsement from The Des Moines Register could bail Braley out. (Sure didn't help Willard Romney in 2012.) 

You just don't knock farmers in Iowa...home of some of the world's most productive topsoil. I spent most of my childhood in Des Moines, and even I know you don't knock the men and women who feed the world.

What's more, I wanted Braley to win in the very state I came from! 

Instead, voters in the Hawkeye State elected Joni Ernst...only because of her cute little "hog castration" commercials.

You know what? Ernst is going to prove just as embarrassing to Iowans as- if not more embarrassing than- the newly-reelected Steve King. 

I can imagine all the meetings Ernst, Thom Tillis (North Carolina's newest US senator), and Ted Cruz are going to have to spread their nut-job ideas. 

So, there you are. I'm still angry about what just went down.

It's hard for me to see whatever silver linings emerged from this century's fourth US midterm election...even the fact that some Florida voters kicked the oily, despicable Steve Southerland out of the US House and replaced him with Gwen Graham, or the fact that here in the Cornhusker State, some of us voters threw Lee Terry Jr. out on his rear end and enabled Brad Ashford to get the seat. 

Now Terry the Younger can enjoy that "good house" a lot longer. 

Still, I'm at the point where I'm reluctant to turn on my TV set and watch the 114th Congress spend the next two years doing further damage to the American Brand.

But then, too many of us asked for this.