If Dr. Charles Murray was a cocktail, he’d be double-shot of classic American conservatism served in a tall glass, with a libertarian twist.Read More
Writer’s Note: A life fully lived means changing and evolving. We start one way and end up another. We begin in one place and find ourselves somewhere else. We do one kind of work and then find out there’s something better and more fulfilling. Sometimes, we even change the essence of our own identity. Steve Roselius has always been a “searcher.” And, he appears to have found what he’s looking for. Thanks to Mr. Roselius for agreeing to share his story and “Face the Firing Squad.”Read More
MEET STEVEN J. HORNER
“All politics is local,” is a common truism meaning that what we do with our lives within our local communities often produces the most tangible results.
Steven Horner, a retiree living in Las Vegas, best personifies this spirit of local politics. He’s busier than most people half his age, often tirelessly putting in 60 to 70 hours per week on any of his pet projects and political activities. He’s a champion of public education, always his favorite topic to discuss. Any day or any night, Horner is likely to be seen participating in a public march, organizing a meeting, volunteering on a project, or directly lobbying an elected official. Horner is a 27/7/365 activist who lives, breaths, and preaches his philosophy of life — which is justice and opportunity for all.
I first met Horner at a local political meeting right after the 2016 presidential election. Stunned by the electoral disaster, Horner was quick to launch into action. Always prepared to act and not just whine and complain, he began organizing yet another generation of activists eager to engage in a new battle and channel a wayward shock of political defeat into something constructive and meaningful.
Horner is the chairman of a local Democratic Party organization, a responsibility which only scratches the surface of a weekly routine which includes ceaseless political activities. He attends local public hearings, where he often speaks about important issues. He travels to the state capital (at his own expense) to meet with legislators. He works with volunteers and other activists determined to fight for common values.
Whatever your politics, one has to genuinely admire Horner’s intense personal commitment and boundless energy.
Steven J. Horner was born on July 17th, 1951 in Salt Lake City, Utah. He was the first of four children born to Jack and Ruthanne Horner. When he was young, the Horner family moved and he grew up in McGill, Nevada — a small mining town run by Kennecott Copper Corporation.
Later, Horner attended a boarding school in Mt. Pleasant, Utah — Wasatch Academy. This experience was “one of the truest influences in my life,” he says. Indeed, this strict educational indoctrination at a church school triggered the first of many impulses over a lifetime to #resist. Horner’s revolutionary spirit first sprouted during a time of sweeping political and social change across America. Horner’s questioning of the establishment resulted in expulsion from school during his junior year. He questioned the rules set forth by the governing church, which was not a popular thing to do in Utah at the time. Horner was branded as a troublemaker — a label he would eventually come to embrace as someone not willing to sit by idly in the face of ignorance and unfairness.
Horner did not graduate until later in life, a shocking revelation given his intense devotion to public education and broad knowledge of so many different subjects. Horner later moved to Silver City, New Mexico, where he met his wife while working at a semi-professional theatre.
In 1971, Horner moved to Las Vegas. “I did many little jobs, drove a truck, worked as a bartender, and a cook,” he says. Shawn, his first child was born a year later. Later, he had a second child, aptly named Hope.
Many who know Horner now might be taken back by his decision to enlist in the U.S. Army in 1973 — just as the Vietnam War was coming to an end. He served and was even stationed in Italy for a time. Despite a growing family and active military service, there was still a deep void in Horner’s life. He knew that he had to go back to school and complete his education.
And so, after years in the Army, Horner returned home to Las Vegas. In 1979, he began to pursue a B.A. in Theatre Arts. However, he’d take another personal detour which lasted ten long years. Behind the scenes, there was a darker cloud overhead which had begun to profoundly impact his daily routine, and not in a good way.
Horner recognized that he’d become an alcoholic. In fact, the 1980s were something of a blur, until Horner finally woke up one morning convinced he had to make some serious changes in his life. His sobriety began on June 12, 1990 (Horner still remembers the exact date). Sober and feeling alive again, he returned to UNLV and completed his BA in 1992. Three years later, Horner — the rebellious youngster who had once been expelled from a church institution and dropped out of high school and later even college — was awarded an MEd in Special Education.
Horner went on to become a teacher in the Clark County Public Schools where he’s spent the balance of his time teaching and working as an advocate for teachers. Horner insists he “retired” in 2014, but now remains busier than ever.
What are some of the things you stand for?
My passions are public education (specifically K-12, but also includes all public education i.e., Headstart and all public colleges) and workers’ rights especially to collective bargaining protection. I also advocate for universal healthcare, public lands, clean and renewable energy. The exploitation of any minority is something that I do engage in as well, no matter the reason no person should be treated as inferior. Overall, I will stand with people above the churches and corporations that currently seem to control many of our world`s governments.
What are some of the things you stand against?
Corporate greed and the destruction of the public education system. Beyond that, the narcissistic attitude that gives some individuals the sense that somehow elitism is acceptable. Money is a necessary evil in our current lives, however I will stand against and will fight the greed that leads to this behavior. To deny any living being the basic needs of life is cruel and undeniably the most reprehensible attitude displayed by anyone. And that I will always stand against this no after what the opposition.
What living person do you admire the most, and why?
I hate to be cliché, I have many living heroes for many reasons, but Hank Aaron is the man that I can always look to for inspiration. From 1957 when I listened to game winning home run in a World Series game to the night I watch on TV him hit number 715, he was a man that did with class and no self-bravado. No matter the death threats, hate mail, rejection by Bowie Kuhen and MLB he went out each day and did the job he was given and always gave it his best effort. I will never know what it is like a to be an African American and that kind of hate, but I do know that when faced with so much hate and so many obstacles here was a man that truly held his head high and rose above it all to just do his job in the Deep South.
What historical figure do you admire the most, and why?
Those that died in a cause of helping the working people to have a voice, these individuals were often nameless and lived in poverty. Because those individuals stood their ground and died for their brothers and sisters to have a better life is something I think about every day. I grew up in a mining town and saw the benefits of those that stood up. From the Railroad massacres in the 1800’s to the mining deaths as recent as the last decade, I recognize the worker, not the union boss, as the true hero in the strife for those that work every day to keep food on the table and a roof over the heads of their family.
What living person do you despise?
The Donald Trumps of the world — those willing to lie, cheat, and exploit to gain a place of power to further the lying, cheating, and exploitation. Donald Trump is the most visible, but I have seen these people in all places, union leadership, principal of a school, elected officials, any place that there is an illusion of power over other people.
If money were not an object, what profession would you choose?
I was and would again be a teacher. I am sorry I ever left the profession.
What is it about yourself that you are most proud of?
What is it about yourself that you’d like to change?
I would like to be a stronger leader, both with my grandchildren and my fellow people — I feel at times like I have failed them.
What’s the most exciting thing you’ve ever done?
I can’t think of a specific single event. Every time I advocated for a teacher that was being bullied or exploited I felt excited and as if this was a mission. We didn’t always win but we gave it the best fight and those on the other side knew they had to work hard to gain a victory, but on those occasions we prevailed I felt as if the world had gained a victory.
What’s the most unusual time and place you’ve ever visited?
The Presidential Inauguration in 2012. I have never been comfortable in large crowds but to watch a President that I voted for, with my grandson and wife being sworn in was a very unusual albeit exciting time. But not one I would like to repeat.
Name a place you’ve never visited where you still want to go.
The Death Camps of Nazi Germany… man’s inhumanity to his fellow beings is something I have a difficult time understanding and I continue to search places that represent that inhumanity. From Little Big Horn to Andersonville, to Japanese internment camp in Twin Falls and Delta, I search for the reason and hope to learn how to bring forward the idea that this can never happen again.
Favorite book, favorite movie, and favorite musician.
Favorite (Fiction) book and movie are the same — To Kill a Mockingbird.
Non Fiction is — Das Kapital
Favorite musicians: Tchaikovsky and Andrew Lloyd Weber
What upsets you the most?
Politicians that vote against the will of the people that elect them, then tell the electorate that they just don’t understand. That kind of arrogance is what makes politics unappealing to the masses.
What bores you?
Reality television this is truly the dumbing down of the people, followed closely but self-gratifying people.
Do you believe in an afterlife and why do you believe it so?
Okay, metaphysics also bores me. No, I personally do not believe in the afterlife or a mythical deity. I do believe that each day if you get up and do your best, someone will remember you and tell someone else of what kind of daily hero you were and through the oral history that memory will be forever.
Finally, I understand you have another passion that might strike some as strange given your background. Why is golf your hobby?
I realize that it is probably the one sport that symbolizes everything I despise, but I find competition a waste of time unless it is against myself. I also find it amazing that a sport that perfection cannot be achieved is something to which I can relate. Each swing is something that I try to repeat but find each is different. It is also a time that I can find some reflection time. It is the sport of the rich, but sometimes the poor can find solace in the imperfection that is golf.
MEET ROGER RODD:
If great comedy requires courage, then Roger Rodd is the bravest of souls.
The versatile Los Angeles-based comedian and actor, perhaps best-known for his anti-politically correct stage act and topical rantings on current events which are posted almost by-the-hour on social media, reveals an unshakable chasm between what we so often think versus what we often can’t say.
On cue, Roger just comes out and speaks his mind anyway. He’s even willing to risk offending some people, convinced that hurt feelings are best tranquilized by the sound of laughter.
Consider one of his trademark professional endeavors, which is guest appearing at various “Black clubs” around the country, which is to say venues that cater primarily to African-American audiences. This is where Roger is at his wicked best. Nothing in the script gets changed. No part of the act is toned down due to sensitivity. Roger walks that razor-thin edge between humor and being offensive like a high-wire trapeze artist.
Of course, sometimes he falls.
Like any risk taker, some might think that Roger crosses an invisible and ever-changing line on what’s tasteful and appropriate. That’s not intended as criticism. Instead, that’s a compliment. To reach the very edge of the steep comedic cliff and get the best view sometimes requires stepping a little too far and then falling into the abyss. Then, one crawls out of the pit, gets back up on his feet, learns a lesson or two, and goes right back to performing — swinging and missing and hitting plenty of home runs. That’s Roger Rodd.
The stage act and the person are connected in many ways. But, they are also different. As with many comedians, there’s typically something far deeper going on within the psyche when writing and performing a comedy act, especially and edgier show. Some might even see this as a dark place. Other know the art of comedy as personal introspection. The act becomes the manifestation of an insatiable curiosity about culture and society that must be explored and deserves to be pressure tested.
I’ve known Roger for more than ten years. We first met in Lake Tahoe. I have been a fan ever since.
Thanks to Roger Rodd for agreeing to my ongoing series, “Facing the Firing Squad.”
Here’s a short highlight reel of Roger doing stand up:
FACING THE FIRING SQUAD:
Q: What are some of the things you stand for?
Rodd: The legalization of all drugs, prostitution, and gambling,
Legalizing all forms of death, meaning abortion, death penalty for all who kill, and euthanasia,
Seize all churches and donate them to the homeless,
Enforce the death penalty for any form of religion, where anybody but the immediate family, gathers ANYWHERE BUT inside of their own domicile. Humanity’s disgraceful track record of god gatherings is well founded.
Q: What are some of the things you stand against?
Rodd: Obstinate ignorance and denial, in the face of hard evidence.
Any religious infusion into what was designed to be our secular government.
The military-industrial complex and their “whores for hire” media.
“Blanket respect” and “blanket judgments.” Both need to be lost or earned on an individual basis ONLY.
Q: What living person do you admire the most, and why?
Rodd: My mother. S he is a Great Depression-toughened member of the generation who are the reason we aren’t speaking German.
Her values and integrity run through my soul.
Q: What historical figure do you admire the most, and why?
Rodd: Never having known their personal lives, and knowing only their public persona, nobody qualifies.
The disparity and magnitude of those two perceptions in terms of deserving my admiration causes me to say — “Nobody.”
I used to think O.J. was a great guy.
My personal historical figure of admiration is my father. He was a decorated WW II survivor of a Kamikaze attack with 52 casualties, who swam over a mile to shore with shrapnel buried all over his body.
When it was my turn to fight a war, there was a problem with my feet.
They were in Canada.
Q: What living person do you despise?
Rodd: None who are in MY personal life. Why allow that negativity to rent a space in your head?
Regarding public figures, that’s WAY too long of a list, with far too many vying for the top slot.
Q: If money were not an object, what profession would you chose?
Rodd: Beach Lifeguard. If it would’ve paid enough, I never would’ve left the tower.
Q: What is it about yourself that you are most proud of?
Rodd: Learning from my father how to never quit.
Q: What is it about yourself that you’d like to change?
Rodd: Nothing. We all have faults but if asked the question, “Would you like to have a person like you for a friend, I’d emphatically say — yes.”
Q: What’s the most exciting thing you’ve ever done?
Rodd: Toss up between skydiving and making a “life or death” rescue.
Q: What’s the most unusual time and place you’ve ever visited?
Rodd: A Scientology camp that hired me for the day as an actor.
Q: Name a place you’ve never visited where you still want to go.
Q: Favorite book, favorite movie, and favorite musician.
Rodd: Book — North Dallas Forty
Movie — “Lifeguard”
Musician — None. Music is FAR too overrated.
Q: What upsets you the most?
Rodd: The stupidity of humanity.
Q: What bores you?
Q: What would it take for humanity to reach its true potential?
Rodd: The elimination of ALL religions.
It is THE single and most DIRECT cause of all human misery.
Q: Do you believe in an afterlife and why do you believe it so?
Rodd: When something cannot be proven or disproven, the only sensible answer is — “I don’t know.”
MEET JOE GIRON
Joe Giron might be the hardest-working man in poker that few people ever see. That’s because he’s always “behind the camera” — literally.
He’s been covering poker’s biggest events for more than a decade, spending night and day staking out the tables to find the perfect shot to capture that glorious moment of ecstasy or the agony of crushing disappointment. Getting that perfect image within the frame of the lens might take minutes or hours to set up. Like a hunter seeking its prey. Giron waits. He waits as long as it takes. Then, he pounces and snaps an image for posterity at just the right instant.Read More