Standard night-time in-the-bed while fast-asleep dreams can be crazy, sort of like visiting the Dalí Museum while you’re drunk and on acid. But they are mild compared to what may happen if you doze off while watching television.
I did that a few nights ago. Here’s what I remember about my TV dream: The president of the U.S. was named Ebola. He was a short Italian man, married to the singer Taylor Swift, who kept singing bittersweet tunes such as “You leave-a me and I willa cut off your dinky pepperoni!”
The president escaped onto the White House lawn. There, a thousand protesters had gathered to accuse Ebola of every crime and problem known to humankind.
So you’re perturbed over a letter to the editor. You’re so mad you vow never to read our newspapers again. Here’s my advice: “Don’t get mad, get even.” In other words write a better letter.
I love letters to the editor, even though some make me cringe.
In the past 10 years, I bet I’ve read and edited more than a 1,000 letters to the editor, ranging from complaints about the president, ex-presidents, animals, local government decisions, police, dog poop, fireworks found in mail boxes, the smell of sewage, bicyclists who text, Democrats, Republicans, the cost of groceries, trash on the beach, our columnist Bob Driver and yours truly.
The novelist Henry James once wrote a remarkable story called “The Beast in the Jungle.” It told of a man, John Marcher, who believed that something important, and possibly catastrophic, would one day happen to him. He was not sure what it would be, but he believed it would surely come and give meaning to his life.
He had a friend, May Bartram, who cared deeply for him. He did not value her as he might have. He did not allow May to come close to him, for fear his coming big event - the beast in the jungle - might somehow harm her. He was too busy waiting for the transformation of his life to occur.
Years passed. Archer and May remained friends, but never attained the glory they might have known if Archer had allowed May to replace his long-awaited beast, the great unknown event. That event never arrived. At the story’s end, Archer realizes that the “beast” he had waited for was the fact that he would never experience a grand event. His life had been a futile, humdrum waste. The closing of “The Beast in the Jungle” is regarded by many critics as one of the most powerful pieces of writing known.
If you wanted to nudge the courts to establish a right to use medical marijuana in states where it is legal, you couldn’t pick a more sympathetic plaintiff than Brandon Coats of Colorado. As a teenager, Coats was in an automobile accident that left him severely disabled. Now 34, Coats is a quadriplegic who has had a state medical marijuana card since 2009. He worked as a customer service representative for Dish Network from 2007 to 2010, when Dish fired him after he tested positive for marijuana use during a random drug test.
Coats sued Dish. On Tuesday, attorneys argued his case before the Colorado Supreme Court.
“We’re not arguing that it’s a constitutional right,” Coats’ attorney, Michael Evans, told the court, “but we are arguing that it’s lawful (to use marijuana outside the workplace).” Dish maintains that it fired Coats in keeping with its zero-tolerance drug policy, which comports with federal law and even Colorado law, which provides only an “affirmative defense” for marijuana.
If this column doesn’t appear for a few weeks, here’s why: I’ll be in a mental ward, recovering from gadget overload. I will have tried to learn too much, too fast, about three things: (1) A new Kindle, (2) a new iPod, and (3) how to start my own blog.
1. MY NEW KINDLE. As you probably know, a Kindle is an electronic device that lets you download and store books, newspapers and many other things. I’ve owned a basic Kindle for three years, and I love it. But it recently died. So I bought a new Kindle. I assumed it would be as simple to operate as my old one. I was wrong.
My old Kindle had a keyboard and switches that I could actually feel as I pressed them. In contrast, my new Kindle - called Fire - is designed for brain surgeons or 8-year-olds with tiny, ultra-sensitive fingertips that can touch the necessary screen points with a micro-accuracy that I don’t yet possess (and perhaps never will.). Also, instead of clicking on the files I want, I must slide my hands up and down across the screen like a fairy godfather, hoping to reach the regions I’m looking for.
It’s candidate debate season. Just about a month out from the election, which this year is Nov. 4, it begins to dawn on people: Oh, there’s an election coming up in a month. Wonder who’s running, and what they stand for?
Civic clubs, special-interest groups and news media are eager to step in to help voters get to know the candidates and what’s at stake by offering public debates. At St. Petersburg College, we’re joining the effort by presenting a candidate debate on Thursday, Oct. 2, at the Seminole campus, 9200 113th St. N. SPC’s Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions is partnering with the Tampa Bay Times to engage the candidates for the Pinellas County Commission and state Legislature in a series of debates from 6 to 9 p.m.
I hope readers will turn out to get to know those who seek to represent them in county and state government. Television commercials and mailed fliers aside, a live debate is perhaps the best way for voters to get to know the candidates. Besides putting candidates on the record on key issues, these events also test their knowledge of the issues, their ability to articulate a clear position, their skill in thinking on their feet, and a little bit about their personality.
Most Americans like to be well informed. When a large or small event occurs, we want to know at least the basics of what happened and what’s going on. One of the inventions for handling this desire is the press conference.
A well-run press conference is a thing of beauty. The other kind can be a bungled, confusing disaster.
The norm is for a senior official or a designated spokesperson to stand at a lectern while speaking into a microphone. The news media and the general public gather around and wait. Then, any of several things can happen.
Circus McGurkis ST. PETERSBURG – The St. Petersburg Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) will host the 43rd annual Circus McGurkis peace education celebration Saturday, Oct. 25, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Lake Vista Park, 1401 62nd Ave. S.
Circus McGurkis is a peoples’ fair focusing on peace education and service to the community with special focus on activities for children of all ages and families of all types. It features arts, crafts, music, games, and ideas that celebrate the creativity and activism that makes the community a more beautiful, loving and just place to live.
Cooters Crab Fest CLEARWATER – To celebrate the opening of stone crab season, Cooters Restaurant & Bar will host its 21st annual Crab Fest Oct. 23-26, at 423 Poinsettia Ave., Clearwater Beach.
The four-day big tent party will kick off Thursday, Oct. 23, 5 p.m., and will run throughout the weekend, while supplies last. Cooters’ special Crab Fest menu will feature fresh off the boat Florida stone crab, king crab, snow crab and Dungeness crab all at special reduced prices.
There also will be live music under the big tent, commemorative merchandise and drink specials.
Cooters’ Crab Fest is a family friendly event and there is no cover charge. Valet parking will be available.
Customer Appreciation Celebration PALM HARBOR – The Brooker Creek Publix store, 36301 East Lake Road, Palm Harbor, will celebrate its 20th anniversary with a Customer Appreciation Celebration on Saturday, Oct. 25.
The event will include food and wine tastings, and runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Friends of the Clearwater Library book sale CLEARWATER – The Friends of the Clearwater Public Library is having its annual fall book sale on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 24 and 25, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at the Clearwater Main Library, 100 N. Osceola Ave. The books will be of all genres.
Halloween Spooktacular LARGO – This year’s Halloween Spooktacular event will be Saturday, Oct. 25, 2 to 10 p.m., at Largo Central Park, 101 Central Park Drive.
This widely popular, family-friendly event includes fun and games for kids 14 and younger. Enjoy music, concessions, bounce houses, a petting zoo and strolling entertainment in this great event for the whole family.
Join thousands of families as they walk the free trick-or-treat trail from 2 until 6 p.m. The trail will end promptly at 6 p.m., so based on the number of patrons waiting, the line could be cut off earlier than 6 p.m.
Wristbands, for children 14 and under that want to participate in the activities outside of the trick or treat path, will go on sale starting Wednesday, Oct. 1. They cost $5 for Largo recreation cardholders or $6 without a card. Wristbands are $7 on day of event. Parents do not need wristbands.
Limited on-site parking will be available for $5. Park for free and walk from Everest University and Largo Middle School.