Blog Categories

You might not want to click the hat.

Sam's hat

thoughts about local political talk

Rowan_County_nc_sealHere are some thoughts I thought about the Rowan County, North Carolina, campaign for County Commission — a very interesting and frustrating topic.

This blog is great. It describes what happened: ”What is the Fish House?”

These Facebook pages are also great: Fire Jim Sides and Craig Pierce and La Resistance.

I may be wrong (and I hope I am), but as a strategy for electing a more progressive, responsive commission, I’m not so sure.

It’s a Fish House, Mall Tax, These-Guys-Aren’t-Good-Policy-Makers strategy.

Fire Jim Sides and La Resistance are awesome for generating interest and energy.

But a campaign requirers more than talk about the past. It requires a vision and promised actions for the future. Winning an election requires actual votes for one candidate over another — and I actually think focusing on the mall and the fish house and “wrongness” of people may help Jim Sides. It would not surprise me at all to see the opposition vote split 10 ways and see Mr. Sides increase his vote count in the next election.

La Resistance ad in the Salisbury Post. 4/6/14

He’s refusing to talk to the press and still getting all the attention. And he’s getting it for things that don’t matter that much.

There are good arguments against the county buying the mall, but there are also some valid arguments for buying it. Either way, it’s a done deal. Over. In the past.

If commissioners intend to damage the downtown and the city of Salisbury, that may be completely valid. There is evidence for that being the case. However, it’s hard to prove, much less run against, an intention or a motive. I’m not sure it can win a county-wide election.

The noise is good because it raises awareness and will likely increase voter turn-out.

But the noise needs to be channelled into a coherent strategy, and I’m not seeing that. It may actually be too late for that, since it’s too late for candidates to file.

I’ve heard the argument about switching party registration, as a strategy.

Okay, then what?

Which candidates on the Republican side support the schools? That’s what I want to hear. And I think that is what voters want to hear.

The schools are the backbone of any community. The economy, crime levels, jobs, quality of jobs, poverty, income levels — everything hinges on the quality of the school system. Every public problem the community faces could be dramatically transformed over time via the consistent presence of a high quality school system.

It’s a simple equation. Quality of Schools Now = Quality of Life in the Future. Period.

What about a candidate who champions the schools?

If there is one, who would that be?

For many years, Jim Sides has not worked WITH the school board. He’s worked against it. This way of governing has had an impact, and we’re seeing that all over. Rowan County has been behind for a good while and it’s going to take new leadership over time to catch up.

Politically, buying the mall was dumb. It’s easy to make jokes about it. But the county is growing and the government will need more office space. It’s a lot easier to justify buying the mall than it is to justify trashing the school system.

It’s almost like wasting valuable time talking about prayer at meetings. Fire Jim Sides and La Resistance are doing something similar to that. Being passionate about something that doesn’t matter that much.

Malls and fish houses are easier to talk about than facing the brutal facts about our school system and how much time and money it’s going to take to recover.

That’s the kind of noise and campaigning what I want to hear.

Purple, directed by Michael Kamel

In October, Michael Kamel, a young filmmaker, asked if he could use the script of my short play, “Purple,” for a short film.

I said sure, go for it. Michael is a freshman at George Mason University.

I get a fair number of requests such as this. They ALL warm my heart — and I mostly never hear about the project again.

Michael emailed me today, saying he’s been busy with “school, school, and more school.”

Yet, lo and behold, he actually made the film.

Today, sent me a link.

I’ve gotta say, I’m impressed. A lot of people make a lot of videos. And a lot of people talk about making films. Michael made a film. And he took care to do it well. He got more out of that script than I would have imagined.

The script…well, it’s fun and strange to look back and think what weird things were going on inside my head in 2007, when I wrote this.

The film… great work, Michael! I love it. You really know how to work with your actors. Thanks also to Jacob and Bri. I don’t know them, but I love them for breathing life into these characters. :)


The Lego Movie

I missed a lot of good movies this year.

Last Saturday night, having had the opportunity to see a movie for the first time in a while, I scanned the web, looking for something good.

I wanted to see 12 Years a Slave – and I will see it – but I had spent a lot of time in my car last week and didn’t feel like driving an hour each way — which is what that would have required.

None of the movies here in Salisbury interested me.

Except… I noticed… The Lego Movie was getting great reviews.

The last time I convinced Alicia to see a movie she didn’t think she would like — with me promising it was supposed to be so good she  would, she didn’t.

It took some talking to get her to go to The Lego Movie. It took something for me to go. I’ve never seen Toy Story, or any animated greats in the past several decades. But we had not been out for a while and she was willing to be a sport about it.

The Lego Movie is a great movie. It’s a lot of fun with lots of quick wit, and we both enjoyed it completely.

Even thought somebody thinks Everything is Awesome is a fascist song, I’m absolutely sure it’s not. And it’s catchy enough, and repeated enough, to ensure you will be singing it on the way out.

A letter to the editor, Steve Mensing

Dear Steve,

Thanks for the plug for our show, Laugh Tracks, at Spoken Space Theatre. FYI, it’s entirely inaccurate. The sketches we have planned are not the ones you list. I won’t be linking to it, but you know what you wrote (using the name Diane Goldstein).

While we do appreciate the publicity,

Continue reading A letter to the editor, Steve Mensing

Laugh Tracks — I’m really proud of this show (and having fun, too)

My latest venture — and some links that go with it.

In terms of theatre, this is not exactly ‘Streetcar Named Desire,’  – but it’s been a blast, a chance to really explore the creation of comedy, and see people develop.

Comedy group finds inspiration in Rowan life … and isn’t

Continue reading Laugh Tracks — I’m really proud of this show (and having fun, too)

an amazing bladder

Stories about other people’s dogs are usually not that interesting.

That said, stories about my own dog are endlessly intriguing. To me. And this is one of those stories.

Alicia and I do not leave town often. So Jackie-Mudpie (our dog), has only been boarded a few times in her ten year life.

Continue reading an amazing bladder

Donald Hughes’ photos of J.F.K.’s Funeral Procession

My good friend, Donald Hughes, sent me this link tonight:

A Spectator’s View of J.F.K.’s Funeral Procession

Donald did the photography for my film, Coffee Therapy. This is a side of Donald I did not know. I knew he was incredibly great to work with, completely competent and talented and hard working

Continue reading Donald Hughes’ photos of J.F.K.’s Funeral Procession

he said she said

He: I’m not sure what you said.

She: You didn’t listen.

He: I know.

She: So now you don’t know.

He: I will if you tell me.

She: Repeat it?

He: Yes.

She: Double trouble for me and reward you for not listening?

He: If you want me to know what you’re saying.

Continue reading he said she said

Breaking Bad, Enough Said

I just looked up Breaking Bad on Wikipedia.

I heard about it, for the first time, a couple of weeks ago. Somebody asked me if I had seen it and I thought it was a movie, possibly an HBO series.

Since then I’ve seen it on Facebook constantly and on all the news

Continue reading Breaking Bad, Enough Said

I love this short film

I love this video (from It reminds me of the good ol’ days, when I was a tech facilitator at the “old” West Rowan Middle School. We had a computer lab with 14 Apple IIe computers. The best thing about the IIe is that, unlike my Apple II Plus at home, it

Continue reading I love this short film