Monday, May 2, 2011

Death of a Terrorist

Shouts of pride echoed long into the night. Hundreds of people ran out of their doors and crowded the city streets. Men and women draped American flags over their shoulders, singing the national anthem and chanting, "USA! USA! USA!" Headlines boasted, "We got him." "We win at last." "US nails the bastard." "Rot in hell." Broadcasters on every news outlet proclaimed it was "history in the making."

I watched news of Osama bin Laden's death explode through Facebook, through Twitter, through CNN and newspapers. Friends posted thoughts of civic pride, happiness, elation. Exclamation points abound. I started my car in the morning and was met with sounds of "America! Fuck Yeah!" - the famous national anthem from the satirical comedy Team America: World Police - on the local sports radio station. The magnitude of the news was overwhelming to just about everyone.

But that's why I write. In the midst of all this joy, this slobbery American love fest, this bubbling enthusiasm about witnessing history, I've never felt so unaffected by something in my life.

And when I say unaffected, that's precisely what I mean. Neutral. Indifferent. Sweden. Po-po-po-poker faced po-po-poker faced.

Don't get me wrong: I understand the importance of this news. Bin Laden was the spark that led our country to war. We wanted to find the man who not only orchestrated the biggest attack on American soil but was also the symbol for terrorism worldwide. He's been damned hard to find for nine years and his capture and death is considered a success for the military. I get that. His death could also strain foreign relations with particular countries and raise fears about the possibility of terrorist revenge. All of this is worth reporting, worth talking about, worth thinking about.

But compared to how I felt as a 13-year-old kid sitting in the middle-school cafeteria on Sept. 11, 2001, this doesn't fit. This news doesn't resonate on the same level as other momentous dates in American history, like Pearl Harbor or the JFK assassination. Maybe I'm ignorant to the significance - it wouldn't be the first time history and I have butted heads and gone our separate ways - but I just can't wrap my head around this nationwide fist-pumping for the death of a terrorist leader.

There are a lot of things that make me proud to be an American citizen. The freedoms to speak our minds and elect chosen leaders. The rights we are given at birth and the many organizations that fight to protect them. The fact that even in the face of intolerance, many people in our country accept and embrace new cultures. The ability to pursue a higher education and the people who are willing to help needy students afford it. The variety of opportunities available in this country, whether you want to fight fires, write a book, start a business, tend a garden, test video games, or even flip burgers at McDonald's. The fact that our country is a democracy and choice is the operative word makes me proud to live here.

There are plenty of ways to spin those things, compare America to other countries or take a turn to negative town, but that's not what I'm getting at. I just don't see a correlation between the news of bin Laden's death and the prideful reaction of the masses. It doesn't add up to me.

I'm not quite in the hippie crowd (How can you celebrate somebody's death, man?) because I understand the pride in winning a war and literally fighting for what's right. But I side more with the Gandhi crowd than any of the bleeding hearts beating their chests today, crowning America "Best Country In The World" all over again.

The news from last night is certainly part of American history; no doubt about that. But if the population wants to call it one of the country's defining moments and greatest successes, our priorities are fucked.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Fun with Google and Presidents

Happy Presidents' Day! It's yet another of our nation's fake holidays that gives some people the day off and others the jealous impulse to punch those that get the day off. In spirit, I decided to do my civic duty by researching our founding fathers with the most advanced search technology we have at our fingertips today: Google Instant Search.

Google Instant Search is a tool that can lead you to where you're going in a fast, instantaneous way. It brings up the most popular searches of the letters you are typing as soon as you type them, which is great if you want to check the weather or movie showtimes in your area. Boom, it's there. Instantly. Sweet! But Google Instant Search also reveals our nation's stupidity. Our huge, pulsating stupidity that only gets worse as technology advances.

So here's what I did: I took every president's name and typed it into Google by phrasing it as a question. "Is (president's name) ...." and waited for my instant searches to pop up.

Several presidents with lackluster terms or unfortunately long names (I'm looking at you, William Henry Harrison) revealed nothing, except that our population rarely searches for them. But looking for a few of the notable presidents brought forth some hilarious, racist and damned homophobic results (click images to enlarge):

I wasn't shocked that Obama's ethnicity, moral core and sexual orientation were questioned, but it turned out to be a pretty interesting trend...



It seems like everybody looking for presidents wants to know two things: whether they're black and whether they're gay. We seriously need to start taking away the deep south's computer privileges.

But of course, there's still one president they'll never question...

He still might be black though...or one of those hippy vegan types. Daggum sunofabitch.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Writer's Anxiety

When it comes to this blog, it seems that you really shouldn't listen to anything I say. I promise consistent posts about the Red Wings and fall through after a few weeks; I promise running installments of stories and usually let those endeavors down after a single post, maybe two. It all comes down to the fact that when you write every day for a living, it's damned hard to want to do it in your free time. So take this first post in more than two months as a sign of things to come: I'm going to write here whenever I can muster the energy and have something to write about, two things that don't always happen together.

But tonight I catch myself thinking more and more about the upcoming insanity trial of Christopher Gribble, who has admitted to his role in the murder of Kimberly Cates and the near-fatal maiming of her 11-year-old daughter at the family's home in Mont Vernon - a 30 minute drive from Nashua - back in August 2009. The main villain in the case, Steven Spader, was convicted in November for the crime on his 19th birthday and received the gift of life in prison, plus another 76 years to life.

His cohort, Gribble, is 21 years old and has admitted his guilt. Now he's trying to plead insanity. I've been called on to cover his trial. Jury selection starts a week from tomorrow.

The case is brutal. Four teenage boys broke into a small-town home in the middle of the night and walked by the light of an iPod into the room of a sleeping woman, who they then proceeded to hack to death with a machete. The random nature of the crime, with a seeming lack of any motivation, compares chillingly with the story of In Cold Blood, a nonfiction book written by Truman Capote. And that's what scares me about covering this thing.

In Cold Blood is one of my favorite books. Capote is an incredible writer and he told a gruesome story in the most compelling way imaginable. But the story changed him, played with his emotions for years. I don't plan on writing a book about the Mont Vernon case, and I sure as hell don't plan on speaking with Gribble or Spader personally. But I fear that I'll see images I don't want to see and I'll hear stories I don't want to hear. I'll spend hours upon hours, day after day, in a courtroom where a man's sanity is called into question for a horrifying murder.

The pressure of the situation is a different fear - every news outlet in New England will be covering the trial and my stories will be on the front page for two weeks - and brings a different set of challenges. But those I know I can face. I know I can write front-page caliber for two weeks straight that rival those of other reporters. What I don't know is how my psyche will react to the appalling details of the murder or how I'll handle my emotions at the end of the day or if my stomach and my nerves will ever settle the same way they do now.

I know this is a unique opportunity for my writing career, and in some small ways I'm grateful for it. But all I hope for is to be the same person I've always been when it's all over. My vacation to Spain starts on March 11, when I'll finally be reunited with my amazing girlfriend right in the middle of her semester abroad. I can't wait for that day; I just hope I'm the same Cam when I jump into her arms.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

10 Things I'd Say to My Kid

Yes, I've missed eight installments of Cam's Hat Trick. But judging from a lack of raging comments, I'm going to guess you simply take your Red Wings reading elsewhere whenever I succumb to laziness or a broken computer. Either way, I'm going to try and get back on the horse even though I rarely get to see any games and make most of my judgments on highlights. It's a handicap you'll have to accept if you visit Egypt's Land.

So what'd I miss? Well, the Wings won six and lost two. They're awesome and way better than your team. Enough said. I'll have a Hat Trick for you tomorrow night following the Wings and Ducks game.

But you came here for new content. I've got that in spades.

Bill Simmons is a popular writer on ESPN. He's great; I like his style, but too often he focuses on basketball and Boston sports - two topics I really could care less about. Sometimes though, he melds his personal life with sports and his column really hits home for me. Wednesday's piece was just that.

He wrote about his five-year-old daughter's envy of an opposing team's uniforms, which were purple and gold - the colors of the Los Angeles Lakers and nemesis of Simmons' beloved Boston Celtics. When he asked her what she thought about green uniforms, she said she HATED green, emphasized with a grimace.

Now, they were just soccer uniforms in a youth league, but Simmons' quick mind immediately flew to the worst-case scenario.
When she's in the ninth grade, I can't have some senior showing up with a Gasol beard, a USC hat and an SUV shaking my hand and saying that they're "just going out for a bite to eat," only he's going to have that barely perceptible, "I've felt your daughter's boobs before, and I'm going to do it again tonight" smirk on his face, followed by me stabbing him to death and serving the mandatory sentence.
I can see myself in a similar situation, should my future daughter ever choose a man with Buckeye allegiances or a Crosby crush. My immediate thought was simple and emphatic:

Oh. My. Christ.

I can't let that happen. So, as Simmons points out in his final paragraphs, a powerful tool can be your parental influence when the child is young - even if that means lying.

So here are 10 little lies I'd tell my future child. With any luck, they'll help my son or daughter see red and think Red Wings, not Buckeyes.
  1. "Remember Mr. McGregor, the bad man from all the cute Peter Rabbit stories you love? He grows Buckeyes in his garden. Then all the little bunnies die."
  2. "Yep, an asteroid killed the dinosaurs. They say it came from Pittsburgh."
  3. "Of course it exists. The fire swamp's just over in Colorado. That place is rife with ROUSs."
  4. "Why did Scar kill Mufasa? Well, it's because he had a Notre-Dame education, honey."
  5. "The Blackhawks are the Indian tribe that started slavery."
  6. "Ohio State scientists captured the Berenstain Bears and did experiments on them."
  7. "Oh, don't cry! Captain Hook's not real. He won't come take you away. But Patrick Roy might."
  8. "Everyone in the world believed in Santa Claus until Eli Manning said something."
  9. "Snape? No, no no. You're thinking of Sidney Crosby. He's the one who killed Dumbledore."
  10. "Without Steve Yzerman, you'd never get any Christmas presents. Or birthdays."
Seems harmless enough to me. I see no future ramifications. Leave your own manipulative lies in the comments!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Cam's Hat Trick: Spilled.

Game #14: Red Wings 6, Oilers 2

One: I hate not having Center Ice. I love listening to games on the radio, but the NHL seems to have done away with that free feature too. Anyway, so I missed tonight's game and couldn't watch any web feeds because my internet was spotty. All you Wings Tweeters had me salivating for highlights, but I had to settle for this crap:

Hockey's not nearly as fun to watch with only little S, H and G bubbles that pop up after every shot, hit or goal. In fact, it's pretty lame, which totally sucks since this game sounded like it was a lot of fun to watch. What game isn't when the Wings score six goals? Wish I coulda seen it. Instead I had to choose between Yzerman's Wrath against the Capitals or the Bruins-Habs on the local station here. Blah. At least the NHL uploads their game highlights super quickly. Oh, wait. Thanks Gary.

Two: The Bulin Wall crumbles. The Wings were great, as far as I could tell from NHL on the Fly, but most of their goals were pretty weak. Fil's opener was awesome, but both of Cleary's and Homer's goals could have been stopped. All good shots and great, tough plays, but I have to think the score would have been different if a 37-year-old drunk Russian wasn't in goal for the Oil. But I'll take it for 10 wins in 14 games. This team is awesome. Built for June. I can taste it.

Three: This new NHL All-Star Game format idea is awesome. There's always been so much argument over East vs. West, America vs. World, etc. But this puts it up to the players. Name two captains and let them pick who they want on their team. Awesome. While I hate the idea of any Red Wings playing against each other - certainly a possibility - I'm pumped to see the pros pick sides like a street game. The only way they could make it better is if they all put their sticks in a big pile at center ice before the game and picked teams that way. Any bets on who gets picked last? Every on the team will be on All-Star, but I'd say the biggest off-ice assholes might get the shaft. Corey Perry? Chris Pronger? I'd love to see Rosby get the honor and watch his goofy grin fade away like Brady Quinn's on draft day in 2007. No matter what, it'll be awesome. Captain Nick takes Dats or Z first. Calling it now.

Next up: Red Wings vs. Avalanche, Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. I'm sick of hearing about the young, plucky Avs and how they're on the up and up. Let's lay waste to 'em at home and snag another couple points. Go Wings.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Four-in-One Super Trick!

Game #10: Red Wings 2, Flames 1
Game #11: Red Wings 3, Oilers 1
Game #12: Red Wings 4, Canucks 6
Game #13: Red Wings 3, Coyotes 2

: I know that picture is old, simple and has a ridiculously poor choice of background color, but I was Googling for Red Wings images and found that one. The Wings didn't even play the Ducks and don't until next month, but it made me laugh. Done. Anyway, so I've been away. And the Wings kept playing without me, the bastards. Seems as though they played pretty well though. This is a total waste of an observation. Wait! Lee Stempniak is a dick. Comment salvaged.

Two: Justin Abdelkader. The Afrogator is smart, he works hard and he has so much talent. I love having him on this team. He's a huge reason why the Wings won the first couple games against Calgary and Edmonton, and I think he'll continue to play instead of Hudler even if he's less talented. Hudler just doesn't bring it the same way Abby does. Not every night. Him and Helm, they just outwork you. They are perfect examples of heart over talent. Everyone wants a guy or two like that on their team. The Wings have a roster full of 'em.

Three: Yes, I'm going to be slightly lame and only give three things about four different games. From the highlights, the Wings looked great in the first two games. They played sound defense with some timely scoring and came out with a couple big wins. I would have bet a ton of money that Detroit would drop the Canucks game, seeing as it was their toughest game of the three in Canada and without any rest. If the Wings had enough gas in the third period, they would have swept the whole trip. Oh well. I'm just happy they scored four on Luongo. I don't care what time of year it is; that game alone proves to me he doesn't have what it takes to win the big one. And yes, I can make that kind of outlandish, broad statement about one of the league's best goaltenders despite not seeing a second of his play on Saturday. I stand by my point. He's a quieter, slightly more playoff-successful version of Nabokov. Sure, he won gold at the Olympics last year, but that competition is nothing like the NHL playoffs. One-and-done elimination compared to best-of-seven play. Not even similar. The Canucks are awesome as a team, but there's a reason they have lost to inferior Chicago teams both of the past two years: Luongo. And now that I've said all that he'll probably have 16 shutouts and win the Conn Smythe, judging from my wonderfully prescient Cup prediction based on dislike last year.

Next up: Red Wings vs. Oilers, Nov. 11 at 7:30 p.m. Do we really have to play these guys again? Fiiiine.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Cam's Hat Trick: Winner Winner

Game #9: Red Wings 5, Predators 2

One: Home unis. I absolutely loved the decision to bring back the home whites for this game. If it's up to the team every game, they should just buck the league trend/rules and play in their whites all the time. Not that I have anything against the gorgeous reds on the road, but there's just something awesome about the Wings in white. Reminds me of '97 and Stevie lifting that Cup for the city. Great memories.

Two: Central Division statement. So far, the Wings have dominated the Hawks and the Preds in their only divisional games this year. Those are supposedly the top two teams to challenge the Wings for the Central crown. I don't care if it's early; I love that the Wings are making a statement to their "rivals" and setting the tone for a great year. They have the best talent in the best division in the league. I'd say that puts them above everything else. Put on your white gloves, Cup people. Start engraving.

Three: Bad journalism. I just couldn't let this slide when I'm reporting on small town local news and some person out there gets to cover all the Red Wings games for the Associated Press. Here's the lead from tonight's story, found on
DETROIT -- Usually a set-up man, Pavel Datsyuk has suddenly turned into quite a goal scorer.

Datsyuk had two goals and an assist to lift the Detroit Red Wings to a 5-2 victory over the Nashville Predators on Saturday night.
Seriously? I know hockey recap writers love to use the one-liners to open up a very plain game story (because they're essentially the same format every single fucking time), but this is unacceptable. Pav is a set-up man, but he's also been one of the flashiest goal scorers in this league for several years. Apparently, this idiot didn't do his/her homework. Shame on you.

Next up: Red Wings at Flames, Nov. 3 at 9:30 p.m. This game, along with the following two games against the Oilers and Canucks, will make for a tricky situation. I'm spending next weekend at Penn State to visit a few friends and catch a football game, so it's possible three games could pass before I get a chance to Hat Trick them all. So expect either a bigger summary next Sunday night or perhaps a four-game combo post following their game against the Coyotes on Nov. 8. Either way, Go Wings.