Thursday, August 27, 2009

I Get No Kick On a Plane

I'm usually very productive on planes. I read books. I do work on my laptop. I compose, I edit, I write, I play games. Or else I sleep.

Now, many airlines are offering WIFI on your flight. For example, Delta. Which I am currently on. In mid-air. Blogging.

I'm heading first to JFK and then on to Edinburgh. What amounts to something like 20 hours of air travel. Having wifi on a plane is awesome, and my only question is - what took them so long?

With the airline industry dying a slow, horrible death, this is one perk they got right. I wonder if JetBlue offers it?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

What the Health?

A MUST SEE interview from last Thursday's Daily Show.
Jon talks to Betsy McCaughey - the woman who brought to the forefront the so-called "Death Panels" in the Health Bill. Of course, as Jon explains, she didn't call them "death panels" that's just what they translate to in Alaskan.

This has to be the most civil, most to-the-source discussion over the Health Bill that has been put on television.

Money quote from the second part:

BETSY: "If you're seriously ill, the best place to be is in the United States..."
JON: "If you have the resources."

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive - Betsy McCaughey Extended Interview Pt. 1
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealthcare Protests

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive - Betsy McCaughey Extended Interview Pt. 2
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealthcare Protests

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Health of a Nation

Shaking my head at this health care "debate."

It amazes me the things that people honestly believe will be allowed to happen in this country. Death Panels?? Euthanasia?? Forced Health Care Coverage??

Okay, so that last one will happen...I always laugh when people get upset about it, though. "You're going to MAKE me pay for Health Coverage??"

"Yes," I think to myself, "because if you don't, and you get into an accident, I'm the one paying for your ass." I wonder where conservatives are suddenly getting this idea of leaning on your fellow man? That's usually such a liberal idea.

In fact, there's been at least one other major switch with the ideologies, too. Democrats are discussing a public option, that will compete with health insurance companies in order to help drive costs down (for the record, my health insurance premium has more than doubled in the three years of having it.) So, essentially we're looking at a free-market recovery of a health commodity - except for one big thing, which is that the public option would be non-profit...i.e. money would not be the goal, HEALTH would be the goal. So then, what happened to the conservatives who wanted to do the same thing with the economy? "The Free-market," they cried, "will always prevail!" as they waved their real-America flags.

The death panel idea also makes me laugh. "We don't want the government to decide when we should die!" Yes, they want it the American Way - allowing the health insurance companies to decide that. The way our forefathers wanted it.

I don't believe that the government is proposing death panels, but then again I just read facts. Perhaps there's a piece of fiction out there that I'm missing. But I will say that, regarding the troublesome fact that they are proposing conversations between patients and their doctors about end of life care, Wisconsin is leading the way. According to ABC News:

"In La Crosse, Wisconsin, are already common because of a program put in place by a local hospital. As a result of these consultations, LaCrosse resident Ann Kottnaur said she now knows that her mother Margaret, who has Parkinson's Disease and Dementia, would rather die at home than in a nursing home."

And finally, as a bit of stepping back, looking at the bigger picture...Regardless of what you think of Obama and his policies...he made promises on the campaign trail, and for the most part, he's going through each one and getting them done. And THAT'S certainly a change from politics as usual.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Trouble on the Homefront 2

This is a must read from fellow blogger Tony over at if you're an artist, work in the arts, enjoy the arts, or have any interaction on any level with people who might be identified as "employees."

Be sure to check the comments as well.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

In Other News...

Michael Jackson is still dead.

But just in case you weren't sure, feel free to click on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and your local news network. They're keeping tabs on him. Don't you worry.

I know this isn't going to be a popular post (2 out of the 6 people that read this may even comment in outrage), but I thought the memorial service at the Staples Center was bizarre, indulgent, and more than anything...incredibly disingenuous.

There I said it.

I can see a concert. I understand the fans (even the 15 year old boys who post vlogs of them crying their eyes out over the loss of whom I can only imagine was their close, personal friend, Michael) need to mourn. Collectively. And publically. On international television. Honestly, that makes tooooootal sense to me...

But the casket? The Family? The children?? It just felt wrong. Why couldn't it have been a completely private affair? Why couldn't they mourn him on their own? Why did it need to be a televised, money-maker? I mean, the DVD sales alone are going to be outrageous. And who gets that money? The kids? The estate? Or, more likely, the producers of the event? Overnight the media will turn Paris, Prince, and Blanket into Kennedys. Should we expect Brooke Shield's career to make a sudden rise? As it is with most funerals, this was not about Michael, this was about US. And that's where, for me, it gets overindulgent and disingenuous.

And Campbell Brown...tsk tsk tsk. Campbell, Campbell, Campbell... With stars (or were they dollar signs?) in her eyes, smiles and asks Larry King (who, himself, had just recently landed after circling the remains), in regards to the ensuing child custody and financial custody trials, "Does this mean...a whole YEAR of Michael Jackson!!??"

I think MJ was an incredible performing artist and singer and dancer and all the stuff that we saw him do. Personally? No clue. Other than to say that I don't believe you can dispute that he lead a bizarre life. And a tragic one. So let's let him rest in peace.

On the otherhand, after such a bizarre life, perhaps this was the most appropriate way to say goodbye.

I'm gonna go watch CNN to find out which it is...

The Getty, The Getty, The Getty's on Fire!

Early reports had this fire, which slowed down traffic in the crucial-to-most-rush-hour-drivers Sepulveda pass, and subsequently every canyon route, and most surrounding surface streets thereafter, starting after 1pm.

But as the LA Times reports, it was sparked at 12:44pm, which was the exact time I was getting on the 405-North, and commented to my father on the phone, "Oh my god, the Getty's on fire!"

Sunday, July 5, 2009

16-14 = 15

Federer becomes number one, in the world, in history.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Trouble on the Homefront

I've been following this for a while, but since I'm not in Milwaukee I feel a bit out of the swim blogging about it.

The Skylight Opera Theatre appears to be in a bad way.

Managing director, Eric Dillner, along with board president Suzanne Hefty, have apparently commandeered the skylight's board of directors, and used it's name to fire Artistic Director Bill Theisen, among others. This sudden restructuring of the Skylight was done without consent of the board, and, in some cases, without it's knowledge.

Needless to say, the arts community in Milwaukee is up in arms. The best places to follow the events so far (which are moving quite rapidly, including the firing of resident musical director Jamie Johns, daily protests outside the Skylight's space, and a demand by Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel writer Tom Strini for the resignation of Dillner) are on Tuesdays, Artsy Schmartsy, and Jamie John's new blog Delight and Amaze, including Strini's own blog.

I have worked at the Skylight twice in my career, first when I was eight years old, and then again just before I graduated high school. But more than just a means of employment, the skylight is a musical theatre center for Milwaukee, and has created inumerable means of creative outlet for me and so many fellow actors, many of whom are life-long friends. The outcry of support for Theisen, and the Skylight itself, is proof of the Milwaukee institution the Skylight is.

What affect this will have on it's upcoming 50th season remains to be seen. As Strini says, "the company will go into its 50th season with no artistic director and no resident music director. It will face the seething anger of almost everyone who's performed at the Skylight for the last five years. It will operate in the shadow of a familiar and popular [artistic director] who was rudely pushed out the door. Dillner, a relative newcomer and mystery man thrust into the role of Skylight figurehead, will stand directly in that shadow. What should be a big anniversary celebration is starting to look like a pit of poison."

And he concludes with, "Dillner, whatever talent and skills he might possess, is damaged goods and has to go, and soon."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Texts from Last Night

From my new favorite website for wasting time...

(858): i mean you're really good at taking the morning after you could put that on your resume..
(720): yeah, i think fast in a bad sitatuion and am able to react with appropriate measures

Proud to be Young

I can't help but feel proud that the voices of the Iranian reform party that continue to reach the international community are those of Iranian youth.

Twitter, youtube, and facebook - social networking groups that were created by my generation, and refined by the one after mine - are flooded with tweets, vids, and posts about what's really going on in Iran. They've become so important, that the U.S. State Department has requested that Twitter delay a scheduled update (which would temporarily shut down the site) to protect the interests of Iranian's using the site.

Andrew Sullivan, at the daily dish, is one of many bloggers doing his best to keep up with the influx of information coming from these sites (good luck finding anything nearly as extensive on the major news networks.)

From, The Daily Dish: a report from an Iranian born in 1984...
"My generation is tired of being disillusioned. We refuse to accept the status quo and we have risen up in defiance."

Rock on.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tony, Tony, Tony 2

The "secret" behind NPH's closing number of the Tony's is revealed by, along with extra, discarded lyrics!

As anyone might have guessed, the writing team behind the number was Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman - who wrote Hairspray!, Prop 8: The Musical, and the up-coming musical version of Catch Me If You Can!

When approached by Harris about writing the closing number, the pair was apprehensive
“'We did our best to tell him that once they announce best musical, no one’s going to want to stick around for a closing number,' Mr. Wittman said in an interview. 'But he had a youthful cockiness that was endearing. He said, ‘No I want to do it.’

Mr. Shaiman and Mr. Wittman spent the next few days composing verses that accounted for any number of possible Tony outcomes: What if Jane Fonda wins for “33 Variations”? What if “Billy Elliot” loses?"

See the truly entertaining number here.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Tony, Tony, Tony!

Some real time thoughts about this years Tony Awards. I'm calling it first: Billy Elliot wins. Okay, here we go!
A 5,6,7,8...!

-And Elton John's mic is off. Love it. Great dress rehearsal everyone, see you at the show.
Will Aaron Tveit ever stop touching himself when he "acts"?
Liza made the high note. Didn't see that coming.
This was a great opening number. Love the HAIR ending, but not crazy about Gavin Creel's Hair.

-Neil Patrick Harris in a pleather suit. Can he please host everything? Oscars? Emmys? He's amazing.

-Angela Lansbury, such a gem. And truly touched. 5 Tonys and she's still caught off gaurd.

-Mamma Mia? Really? Again? Couldn't they have at least called Tony and Rob?

-Next To Normal - I didn't stand at the end, but total props to Kitt for a great score. Very deserved. Lyrics, however....
Why did they cut off Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey? They let Roger Robinson go on and on.

-Is Lin Manuel Miranda gay? How did I miss that lisp during In The Heights?

-Liza, another gem. The shoulder shake reminds me of Ray Jivoff. They try to play Liza off, but she's not having any of it. She just uses the incidental music to build her speech all the way to the end. A true star.

-Oliver Platt tells us the plot of Guys and Dolls. Another minute that could have gone to Tom Kitt's acceptance speech.
Another mic not working. Who is running these mics??? Wow, that guy is, apparently.
Literally running.

-Quick story about Rock of Ages - I was there at the beginning of that show. The first workshop in LA? I played piano for the auditions. No joke. Had no clue it would go this far. Kudos.

-John Stamos in Bye, Bye Birdie?? Hmm...

-Oh my's Jaba the Hut! No wait...I mean, Princess Leia. Yikes.

-Damn it. I didn't get Neil's sushi joke. I hate being out of the loop.

-Geoffrey Rush wins his first Tony award for EXIT THE KING. I so wish I could have seen this. Best speech so far.

-In Memoriam: What I Did For Love...totally gonna cry. Bea Arthur, ugh. Eartha Kitt. George Furth. Paul Newman. It's moments like this that I remember how much I love the theatre, and how nothing, truly nothing, comes close to the experience of being a part of a great play or musical, and to go out there night after night and try again and again to get it right, or as close to right as you can get it.

-What is Frank Langella doing? I'm sure this is funny to someone, but how self-indulgent.

-I really wish I could've gotten in to see Billy Elliot. Those much freakin' talent.

-Legally Blonde. I'm glad they're playing more songs from shows that didn't win Tonys. Yay.

-"They are the actor equivalent of Rodger Federer." Sadly, no one in the audience got the sports reference.

-Angela giving Jerry Herman his Tony. Talk about a gem. "It doesn't get any better than this." It doesn't get any better than him. I've been compared to Mr. Herman, but mostly in personality and, unfortunately, stature. I'm...honored?

-I love when Neil makes straight jokes. Anne Hathaway is apparently at a rave. "What's up RADIO CITY!!!"

-HAIR has got to be the most exciting revival broadway has seen in a while. Jay Johnson scored so big. And it just won a Tony. Rock out. "Peace Now. Freedom Now. Equality Now. Justice Forever." Beautiful.

-Hmm. Alice Ripley. Not sure about that.

-Oh, boy. The 3 Billy's are going to share a speech. Can't WAIT for this. They get laughs for all the sisters. Love it. Aww...I think they weren't finished, but at least they got the important thank you's out.

-And the Tony goes to....


--Neil's closing number: icing on the cake. Love it. He's stupid awesome.

And goodnight.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Join the Banned

Retro-trends are always coming back.
Everywhere you look - 80's sunglasses, 80's swimsuits, 80's-sounding music.

And there's this fashionable trend from, well, throughout history, really. Book banning. This time in West Bend, Wisconsin.

Ginny and Jim Maziarka believe that teens should not be exposed to sexuality at their local library. That's right, their library. This couple believes that the LIBRARY is the worst place that these kids could possibly get information about teen sexuality. Retro is SO in.

Their complaint was with topics they deemed to be pornographic, which according to Ginny Maziarka is defined as "any sexual activity that is spelled out explicitly, even crudely." 5th grade family life book?

Three of the books in question to be moved, or removed, or whatever their current position is are Deal With It! A Whole New Approach to Your Body, Brain, and Life as a gURL, The Geography Club, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Basically a book about being a teenage girl, a book about being a teenage homosexual, and a book about being...well, a teenager.

The authors of Deal With It! (based on their website found that that today's teens have the same questions about sex, love, and growing up that they had as teens. "Hearing what they had to say convinced us that there was a need for a new kind of book about being a girl, one that's smart, funny, approachable, and tuned in to the things girls really want to know."

Well, they were wrong. If our parents didn't get real answers to their questions, then why should we?

From the book list review of The Geography Club: Russel is gay, and he knows he better keep it secret, or he'll be a total outcast in his small-town high school.

Guess he was right - he's still apparently an outcast in his small town library.

And from the main character in Perks of Being a Wallflower: "I walk around the school hallways and look at the people. I look at the teachers and wonder why they're here. If they like their jobs. Or us. And I wonder how smart they were when they were fifteen. Not in a mean way. In a curious way. It's like looking at all the students and wondering who's had their heart broken that day, and how they are able to cope with having three quizzes and a book report due on top of that. Or wondering who did the heart breaking. And wondering why."

Too bad, kid. You're just not meant to know.

The good news is, thanks to people like Maria Hanrahan who started West Bend Parents for Free Speech, the library board voted to keep the books. I guess they figured if books are outlawed, then only outlaws will own books.

Quick, kids! Put down your violent, over-sexualized video games, and websites and head to the library while you still can!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Quote of the Day

Jon Stewart on the dismissal of Lt. Dan Choi, a combat veteran and one of only 45 officers who speak fluent Arabic, because Choi is gay.

"It was okay to waterboard a guy over 80 times, but GOD FORBID the guy who could understand what that prick was saying has a boyfriend. Waterboarding may make the prisoner talk....but it ain't gonna make him talk english."

Friday, May 8, 2009

Stand Up for Your Rights

I recently returned from a trip to the big apple for a whirlwind weekend that ended in a blow-out concert at Joe's Pub.

While I was there, I took advantage of the opportunity to see a couple shows - both of which are nominated for a Tony Award - 33 Variations and Next to Normal.

Next to Normal, if you don't know, is somewhat of a sensation on the b'way, called "brave and breathtaking" by Ben Brantley of the New York Times, who compared the score to Spring Awakening.

So, I was all too willing to get to the theatre at 8 am and wait four hours in the rain and cold to get a front row ticket to see Aaron Tveit in nothing but his underwear.

Unfortunately, in the end, I didn't care for the show. In my opinion, Next to Normal was a so-so show with terrible direction (direction that is curiously absent-from-mention in the review...) (To be fair, I also thought 33 Variations, which I did care for, was a so-so show with WONDERFUL direction.)

Okay - so there I am, 2 hours later, not particularly impressed with the performances or the show in general, sitting in the front row, and the lights go down for the last time. The audience erupts with applause and jumps to its feet (remember, they've all been told by somebody that this is a b'way sensation!) I, being someone who takes his responsibility as an audience member very seriously, decide that this musical did not merit thunderous applause at full height. So I sat there, in the front row, smiling and applauding politely.

And my show companion, after we left the theatre, told me how embarrassed he was that I would humiliate myself by not standing. He also told me that my career in the theatre could potentially be hindered if anyone of any importance ever saw me not standing (when the majority of the audience stood.) Blacklisted, is essentially how he put it.

For what? For not enjoying a show? No, no - not even that - for NOT STANDING. He painted a scenario for me, in which, some fellow writer or actor would see me not standing, scoff and call me a jerk, and then proceed to call Hal Prince to complain that I was such a jack-off, after which Hal would refuse to work with me and my carreer would spiral downward from there, and all because I was being a pompous asshole.

I asked him what if I had sprained my ankle earlier that day, or seriously injured my knee? What if I had been moved to tears and couldn't force myself to move from my seat because of how overwhelmed I was by the emotional performances? Now who's the asshole? Me - or the fellow writer who thought it his place to call Hal Prince behind my back and spread unneccessarily bitter rumors?

For me - here's the bottom line: Apparently, according to my friend, in order to save face in this business, I'm not entitled to my own opinion. Regardless of how intelligently I can speak about what I did and did not enjoy, at the end of the show, I'd better be standing. Because...because why? It's broadway. It's a new show. People put in the time and effort to put it on. Ben Brantley said I should. I don't know, honestly.

Before, a "Standing O" was validation, a sign that the audience, each person individually, decided this was great. Now, it's a fiercely political move, that seems to have nothing at all to do with the show you just saw, but more to do with how you look having just watched the show you just saw - and if you find yourself in the audience, remember to simply follow suit, and check your bags, your coats, and your opinion at the door.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

What the Favre?

He's the Barbara Streisand of Football.

No, not gay athlete Esera Tuaolo.

Brett Favre - now in second retirement - with a possibility of an even more dramatic return to the NFL, this time for Green Bay Packers' rival: The Minnesota Vikings.

And the Tony for Most Melodramatic career goes to...

Friday, April 17, 2009

Civil Rights: Cut or Uncut?

The conservative movement in this country is in a dire way.

They've been left behind by pretty much every other cultural movement, in particular the oh, so relevant pop-culture, complete with all its double-entendre.

First there was tea-bagging. And now this from Talking Points Memo:

"In an unintentional but hilarious nod to gay sex chatters everywhere, the National Organization for Marriage has dubbed their campaign "2 Million for Marriage". Or 2M4M."

Who's working for these people? The same team that vetted Sarah Palin? Is no research being done beforehand?

If you happen to support the further elimination of equal civil rights for all tax-paying, conscientious minded citizens of the land of the free, don't bother checking Apparently it's already been claimed by those damn liberals.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Treaty of what now?

I'm going to be honest here and say that I know I learned this in school, but it's extremely vague in my memory. It was probably important at the time, but...come on. It wasn't the American Revolution, it wasn't the Louisiana Purchase, and it wasn't even close to the Civil War. How the hell was I supposed to remember the Treaty of Tripoli?? Let alone know that the Senate's ratification of the treaty was only the third recorded unanimous vote of 339 taken.

But that's the funny thing about History. It's always there, and it never goes away.

So when Obama says that while we are a nation predominantly populated by Christians, America is not a Christian Nation, he's backed up by facts.

And here they are:

The most striking is the Treaty of Tripoli, ratified by the U.S. Senate in 1797. Article 11 states: "As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility [sic], of Mussulmen [Muslims]; and, as the said States never have entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries."

That bears repeating: The Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion."

That's not mincing words. And neither is this:

(hat tip: tuesdaysblog)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Green State Goes Rainbow

Vermont becomes the 4th state in the union to legalize gay marriage.

California remains the only state constitution ammended to include outright discrimination of a minority group. And my better sense tells me that's not going to change in the next few months.

Last night I caught Pat Robertson on CBN talking about Iowa's decision - rather, in his words, the decision of 4 or 5 radical, unelected judges - to change the cultural landscape of this country, despite the cries of the populous.

This argument always confuses me, since culture is descriptive, rather than prescriptive. And the legality of the civil rights in this situation has little to do with culture. After the courts have made their ruling, Pat Robertson and anyone else still has the freedom to hate gays, speak out against gay marriage, and continue living their homophobic lifestyles. No one wants to prevent that.

Certainly not Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Iowa, or Vermont.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Second Ammendment Blues

As if we needed more, two more tragic reasons why we need to reexamine our gun control policies in this country.

How many more human lives need to go until people realize this isn't an assault on their right to hunt moose?

Friday, April 3, 2009

As California waits...

Iowa has already bucked the trend.

This from a unanimous ruling by the Iowa Supreme Court, which upholds held that the Iowa statute limiting civil marriage to a union between a man and a woman violates the equal protection clause of the Iowa Constitution.

Quote of the day, addressing religious opposition to the statute:
Having addressed and rejected each specific interest articulated by the County, the court addressed one final ground believed to underlie the same-sex marriage debate—religious opposition.

Recognizing the sincere religious belief held by some that the “sanctity of
marriage” would be undermined by the inclusion of gay and lesbian couples, the court nevertheless noted that such views are not the only religious views of marriage. Other, equally sincere groups have espoused strong religious views yielding the opposite conclusion. These contrasting opinions, the court finds, explain the absence of any religious-based rationale to test the constitutionality of Iowa’s same-sex marriage statute.

“Our constitution does not permit any branch
of government to resolve these types of religious debates and entrusts to courts the task of ensuring government avoids them . . . . The statute at issue in this case does not prescribe a definition of marriage for religious institutions. Instead, the statute, declares, ‘Marriage is a civil contract’ and then regulates that civil contract . . . . Thus, in pursuing our task in this case, we proceed as civil judges, far removed from the theological debate of religious clerics, and focus only on the concept of civil marriage and the state licensing system that identifies a limited class of persons entitled to secular rights and benefits associated with marriage.”

(hat-tip Tony)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Monday, March 30, 2009

Obama and The Economy: Clash of the Titans

South Parks sums up what the Economy (and God) really is, after we've ruined it by buying crap like Margaritaville mixers on payment plans.

And then there's this. Turning down a traditional $100,000 in federal funds allotted to the new first family to use in redecorating their already lavishly decorated new White House, the Obamas have decided to use their own money to do the redecorating. So, instead of taking money away from us, they've decided within their own means. Talk about walking the walk.

In a surprising turn of bi-partisanship, President Obama has also decided to maintain one of the former administrations foremost additions to the White House...the oval office rug. Former-President Bush replaced the blue rug from the Clinton Whitehouse with a $60,000 cream rug designed by former-first lady Laura Bush. I can imagine why getting rid of the rug in the oval office after Clinton's term would be such a necessity....ugly stains and all.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Fresh as a Daisey

I'm not usually keen on plays or musicals about the theatre. But this is different.

Mike Daisey is a monologue-ist and story teller from northern Maine. You may have seen him on youtube, being protested during one of his shows at American Repertory Theatre.

Center Theatre Group is currently housing Daisey for only a few days at the Kirk Douglas Theatre as part of their new "Douglas Plus" programming. His show: How Theatre Failed America. A ferocious piece with a self-proclaimed terrible title.

Mostly hilarious, and at times incredibly dark, personal, and poignant, the piece is a must-see for anyone who works in theatre, just enjoys theatre, or in rare instances...both.

But here's the catch - you only have two more nights.

And while you're at it, come back to the douglas plus and see a little hip-hop musical I'll be doing called Venice.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Oscar Night (Part Two)

Once again the Oscars have come and gone.

As I've said before, I'm a huge Oscar fan. There's very little they can do that will upset me. But this year managed to pull it off. I really did not like the broadcast this year - worst ever that I've seen, in fact.

Hugh Jackman was not a host, he was a side show - and a poorly put together one at that. The highlight of the presenters was undoubtedly Steve Martin and Tina Fey. The nominees may disagree with me, but the bringing out of all those people and having us sit and watch them while they "extemporize" about how wonderful everyone is was embarrassing to me at least.

And those musical numbers. Oh my god. What was Baz Luhrman THINKING!?? Not everything needs to be a medley, people. Really! And while I love John Legend, he just didn't sound right singing that Peter Garbriel song. Tsk tsk tsk. No, no, no.

I did appreciate the "grouping" this year - the design oscars being together, the sort of "story" it all told (i.e. "how a movie is made.") And the Best Picture montage may possibly have made up for the rest of them. Except...Good Will Hunting was in there, and that didn't win no best picture. Hm. Confused.

As far as the awards went, there weren't any major surprises, as far as I was concerned. I was thrilled for Penelope Cruz and Sean Penn (and Heath!), all of whom I picked to win. Slumdog seemed to sweep most of its categories, and rightfully so. Kate Winslet cannot be more glamorous and beautiful even if she tried. And yes, I will say it - Poor Merryl. Maybe 16's a charm.

The surprise of the night, for me was Dustin Lance Black. Personally, I wanted WALL-E to win for best original screenplay, but let me say two things:

-His speech was incredibly special and so worthwhile (Fey and Martin were awkward getting back into the humor after that.)

-And it occured to me, afterwards, that even though it may not have had the strongest character relationships, this script was so vitally important to our day and time; and perhaps the members of the academy saw that, too. And if that's true, then I am so happy, and I hope that the tide of history is truly turning in favor of equal human rights.

Either that, or the academy really just is, as Sean Penn put it, "A bunch of commie, homo-lovers."

Saturday, February 21, 2009


Would this be considered political suicide? Or political murder?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Quote of the Day

A valentine message from Rep. Zach Wamp to Democrats:

"Just because republicans spent too much money after September 11 and lost our way on financial matters doesn't mean the Democratic party should be allowed to wreck our ship of state."

Ship of state? Which ship would that be? Perhaps the bipartisan-ship?

Get on board, Wamp. You had your chance to fuck up. Don't bitch about the fact that America gave the power to the other team this time around. What's wrong? Afraid they might do better?

Stimul-US, or Stimul-NOT THEM?

This whole thing over "bipartisanship" has got me all confused.

Chip Reid summed up the media's perspective in Obama's presidential press conference. "You, [Mr. President], have often said that bipartisanship is extraordinarily important overall, and in the stimulus package. But now when we ask your advisors about the lack of bipartisanship so far -- zero votes in the House, three in the Senate -- they say, well, it's not the number of votes that matters, it's the number of jobs that will be created."

Obama then went on (and on, and on...boy, all those thoughtful, well articulated answers are enough to drive someone to Bill O'Reilly level boredom) to explain how he made a series of Overtures to the Republicans, not just to get short-term votes, but to build up trust over time. And we all recall what W. did to build up trust, which was of course to take away our right to distrust him.

I don't understand why bipartisanship is being measured solely by Obama's obvious efforts to reach out to republicans. "Bi" still means two, right Jason Mraz? The GOP's new policy of "Nope" seems to be getting in the way here. They seem to think that an atmosphere of bitpartisanship means "we get our way, period!"

Obama, in my opinion, has done an incredible amount of work to delete pork spending in this bill, and include unprecedented accountability, putting the power of the government into the hands of the people (how's that for republican ideals???)

And yes, I agree with Obama's views on what will ulimately stimulate our economy in the long run (arts funding, green collar jobs, education, education, education!) and yes, you may disagree. You may disagree that the federal government has no business butting into affairs like energy, education, and health care. In fact, it seems that republicans of late believe the government should only be involved with war and foreign policy (and by foreign policy I mean war.) But as Obama so rightfully said in his inaugural address: "The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works."

I have been asked my thoughts on the "speed" at which Obama and Pelosi pushed the bill. I know that Bill O'Reilly is on record as having said that Pelosi hi-jacked the bill, but I have also heard it said that Obama has owned this bill, and I agree that he has, so let's put Pelosi aside. reported that "Some repulicans in the House expressed frustration over how little time they had to read the 1,000-plus-page bill, and others predicted ruin if it passed." Look, Republicans, I hated my english teacher Mr. Burke for assigning King Lear, Hamlet, and Othello over one weekend, but do what I did and bully some smaller senators into reading it out loud to you.

I, personally, think our government moves too slowly in general, but especially in this instance, I agree that swift action is entirely necessary. Not everybody I know is being immediately affected by this recession, but I am. I recently joined the daily growing number of Americans on unemployment, and I do not say that proudly, or self-righteously (as many artists do.) Looking at this, we see just how rapid this economic downturn is...well, downturning.

This is an image of the literal definition of "Off The F*cking Chart."

So, do I think that the extra waiting around, the back and forth about more tax cuts (as though there aren't ANY tax cuts) or less spending (is less spending reeeally going to get rid of the wolves at the door? and by wolves I mean state governments?) I am listening, and I hear Obama when he says that no plan is perfect. I also hear when Rahm Emmanuel says "you never let a good crisis go to waste." And so, while I will be watching very closely, I will also understand that we needed a BIG booster shot and we needed it four months ago (when there "was no recession.")

If my foot is about to fall off, and they pump me full of so many drugs that one of them covers my body in hair, but ultimately saves my foot - hey, no harm done, right? I can always shave the hair off, I can't always get a new foot. Okay, so maybe a bad example.

The point is it's not my foot, it's OUR foot. And it's not a foot at all. It's our jobs, our livelihoods, our futures, our whole damn country. We're in the middle of a big pile of shit and an even bigger shit storm is on the horizon. Whether we dig or whether we swim, we're still going to be eating shit. If we start start acting together now, and if we're lucky, we'll make it out in time.

If least we know the "Number of Jobless Americans Chart Industry" will be booming!

Friday, February 6, 2009

"A.E. Housman, sir"

Oh who is that young sinner with the handcuffs on his wrists?
And what has he been after that they groan and shake their fists?
And wherefore is he wearing such a conscience-stricken air?
Oh they're taking him to prison for the colour of his hair.

'Tis a shame to human nature, such a head of hair as his;
In the good old time 'twas hanging for the colour that it is;
Though hanging isn't bad enough and flaying would be fair
For the nameless and abominable colour of his hair.

Oh a deal of pains he's taken and a pretty price he's paid
To hide his poll or dye it of a mentionable shade;
But they've pulled the beggar's hat off for the world to see and stare,
And they're haling him to justice for the colour of his hair.

Now 'tis oakum for his fingers and the treadmill for his feet
And the quarry-gang on Portland in the cold and in the heat,
And between his spells of labour in the time he has to spare
He can curse the God that made him for the colour of his hair.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Robert Glibbs

I understand that being the White House Press Secretary must be a very hard job, and I'm not versed enough to say who has best held that position recently. But I don't find Robert Gibbs particularly...good at it.

I feel like with an eloquent, articulate President like Obama should require an equally eloquent, articulate Press Secretary. Gibbs bumbles, is often glib, can sometimes be rude, and doesn't necessarily illuminate the obvious aspects of his talking points when responding to questions. And in some cases, he seems unprepared, or un-knowledgeable, about things like schedules, recent developments, and even major agenda points (perhaps, purposefully, so - plausible deniability and all that.)

Don't Divorce Us

News broke this Tuesday, according to Courage Campaign, that the California supreme court will hear oral arguments on March 5, and will then make a decision within 90 days on the validity of Prop 8 and 18,000 American marriages.

Ken Star (yes, that Ken Star) has filed a legal brief that would FORCIBLY DIVORCE 18,000 American marriages. (Mr. Star apparently on a rampage to break up marriages, after failing to break up the Clintons'.)

Watch this video, and then please tell the supreme court not to divorce Americans.
Doesn't matter where you are, could be California, New York, or even...gulp...Wisconsin.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Quote of the Night

Stephen Colbert on Pope Benedict rehabilitating Bishop Richard Williamson, a known holocaust denier:

"Apparently, Bishop Williamson has enough evidence that 2000 years ago a man rose from the dead, but not enough evidence that 60 years ago the Nazis were pretty bad."

Quote of the Day

This, from the former VP of the Christian President who ran under the title "compassionate conservative":

"Protecting the country’s security is a tough, mean, dirty, nasty business. These are evil people. And we’re not going to win this fight by turning the other cheek."
~Dick Cheney

I wonder what Jesus would have to say about that. After he was finished eradicating all the gay people, I mean.

Words Matter

In one of the best essays that I have ever read, George Orwell, in 1946 wrote, in Politics and the English Language:

"Now, it is clear that the decline of a language must ultimately have political and economic causes: it is not due simply to the bad influence of this or that individual writer. But an effect can become a cause, reinforcing the original cause and producing the same effect in an intensified form, and so on indefinitely. A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts. The point is that the process is reversible."

As an intellectual and a cultural elitist (that's right - get your rotten tomatoes ready) I feel Orwell's call to, essentially, pull our minds from the mud by way of our words. Even in my own career practice, acting, I've learned recently how using certain vocabulary belies a specific kind of understanding (or belies little understanding at all) of certain topics.

Susan Jacoby, who I've blogged about before, wrote a book called
The Age of American Unreason. I have yet to read this book in its entirety, but the first chapter addresses the issue of language in our politics in very clear, easy to understand, AMERICAN terms. I highly reccomend you read it here.

She talks about Former President Bush's all-encompassing use of the word
"folks." "Folks", Jacoby argues, as opposed to "Ladies and Gentlemen" or "The American People" degrades the American sense of self. I know, I know, look at me spouting off my grandiloquent and confusing intellectual, elitist philosophies here, but hang with me - I'll try my best not use too big of words (aside from grandiloquent.)

"The specific political use of folks as an exclusionary and inclusionary signal, designed to make the speaker sound like one of the boys or girls, is symptomatic of a debasement of public speech inseparable from a more general erosion of American cultural standards. Casual, colloquial language also conveys an implicit denial of the seriousness of whatever issue is being debated: talking about folks going off to war is the equivalent of describing rape victims as girls (unless the victims are, in fact, little girls and not grown women.)"

So, folks aside, let's move on to a few other political words that have become meaningless: democracy, liberal, conservative, and my personal favorite, and the point of this blog: terror - specifically The War on Terror.

How, pray tell, does one fight a War on Terror? And who can debate anyone the fact that Terror is bad and therefore we must fight said War on Terror? It can't be done, but the fact is, it is rhetorically empty and meaningless, which is exactly what our politicians would like, because then the War on Terror can be used to justify anything (Iraq, anyone?)

So you can understand how my intellectual, elitist heart jumped for joy when, while watching Anderson Cooper interview President Obama, they had this exchange:

ANDERSON: "I've noticed you don't use the term 'War on Terror.'...Is that conscience? Is there something about that term that you find objectionable or not useful?"

OBAMA: "Well, I think it is very important for us to recognize that we have a battle, or a war, against some terrorist organizations; but that those organizations aren't representative of a broader Arab community, Muslim community. Words matter in this situation because one of the ways we're going to win this struggle is through the battle of hearts and minds. What I want to do is make sure that I'm constantly talking about 'Al Queda' and other affliated organizations because we, I believe, can win over moderate Muslims, to recognize that that kind of destruction and nihilism ultimately leads to a dead end, and that we should be working together to make sure that everybody's got a better life."

If I wasn't already swooning over Cooper and Obama in the same room, then this really got me going. Orwell would be so proud. We should all be so proud.

Even if you don't quite understand it, that's okay - there's a good chance, now, that someday you will.

Growing Pains

I'm confused as to why we're shaking our heads at Obama in utter disappointment over Daschle and Killefer.

Oh, I'm not. It's fun to create heroes and then knock them down.

I believe Obama when he says Daschle was the most qualified person for the job as head of HHS. Is it Obama's fault that Daschle has tax issues? Is it better for Obama to nominate a completely unqualified individual (or even a lesser qualified individual) just because that person has a clean tax record. No one tried to hide his tax evasion. It came up fairly quickly, and, I'm sure, would have been worked out just as quickly. Daschle, I assume, was vetted on his ability to run HHS, not his ability to pay taxes.

I understand Obama, too, when he says it can suggest a double standard. But a.) Washington can't be changed in 15 days, and b.) Change has to start SOMEWHERE. Obama can't change what Daschle did in the past, only what he will do from now on. And isn't that important, too?

And what's this about Daschle being a semi-lobbyist?? Because he worked for a law firm that did business on behalf of lobbyists? According to NPR last night, that makes half of Washington Lobbyists. All congresspeople and ex-congresspeople still have the phone numbers of their colleagues, and will still call them to...y'know...strategize, group, pitch, lobby for certain bills. So if that was the criteria, very few people in Washington would pass that litmus test.

The point is - that ISN'T the criteria. You must be a registered lobbyist and engage in "lobbying contacts" (okay, whatever...?) The critieria's strength, according to NPR, lies in its narrow defintion of LOBBYIST, covering only the most important part of what it is a lobbyist does - actual lobbying.

Not to mention (hat tip Tony) that Obama, not 4 hours after Daschle's announcement, was APOLOGIZING to the American public. Remind me again when Bush apologized for making the wrong appointment (let alone eating cake, while New Orleans drowned.)

We have an expectation that our Politicians are gods. If they make a mistake, we don't want to vote for them. Yet, if they make a mistake and try to talk their way around it, we see through it and we criticize them. Obama's approval rating has "shot down" (to an alarming 66%...66%!! More than twice what Bush spent his last year in office with) because he 'fessed up to a mistake.

We need to grow up.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Annoyed with Frustrated Attachments

I'm watching CNN right now, and Anderson Cooper is discussing Ted Haggard's interview on Larry King.

Larry has so far asked such questions as:
Do you think this would have been different if Mike Jones had been Michelle Jones?
Do you consider yourself gay? Bi?

Haggard has said he's been to a couple counselors, who have defined his condition as Heterosexual with Homosexual Attachments (attachments? Like on a vacuum cleaner?)
He made the point that when a gay man has an affair with a woman, people don't demand that he admit he is heterosexual.

Am I the only one who thinks these are the wrong questions???

Who cares what Haggard calls himself? He has admitted that he doesn't feel like he fits in any of those boxes.
And, I'm sorry, but I can scarcely recall a gay man having an affair with a woman. Is Haggard really the victim here? Poor Ted, being asked to "come out."

To me, the question that needs to be asked is what kind of religion/society creates an environment that forces individuals to repress their sexual identities. Haggard is (was?) an outspoken homophobe, which clearly masked his true struggle. What was it that made it a struggle?

It actually pains me to watch him have to answer these questions and face these accusations, and I can only imagine what it must be to do this all so publicly. But this isn't helping anyone. We're only telling young boys and girls, who are experiencing the same things, that if you act on them, you're bad. Why aren't we telling them that if you REPRESS them, that is dangerous?

Larry King can be a moron sometimes, but Anderson Cooper...I would've expected more.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Closer

A lot people that I grew up with will remain fairly unaffected by the current recession. I tease people saying that I will be unaffected, as well - "I was poor before, I'm poor now. What's the difference?"

The difference is this.

Today, Sunday January 4th, marks the beginning of a slew of closes on Broadway. More shows closing in one month than ever before in Broadway History.

Yesterday, I saw two of Broadway's strongest shows: All My Sons, and a rapturous Gypsy, starring the truly incomparable Patti LuPone. Both houses were packed full. I had to stand for All My Sons. Both of them close within the month.

The Tony Award for Best Musical is currently represented by 7 different shows, still playing. 4 of them - Hairpsray, Avenue Q, Spamalot, and Spring Awakening - will all close.

The Tony Award winner for best play and the Pulitzer Prize winner in 2008, August:Osage County - the most exciting new American drama Broadway has seen in a decade - will close.

As well as 13, The 39 Steps, Boeing, Boeing (Tony Winner for best play revival 2008), Dividing the Estate, Grease, Young Frankenstein, and Equus.

Compound that with two christmas shows that were always due to close (White Christmas, and Slava's Snowshow) and you've just closed 16 shows! With not so many left. Think of how many actors will be unemployed tomorrow.

Dark days lie ahead, and I don't just mean the marquis.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year

So it's here, and for some reason I have a feeling that 2009 is going to be a great year.

Not for you.
For me.
For all I know, this could be the worst year ever for you. I'm sorry about that. But that's just how these things fall.

First of all, in about two weeks, we're going to finally have a new president. That's very exciting.
Second of all, in about three weeks, my musical DARLING will premiere as a reading as Pace University in Manhattan - where I currently am.

Beyond that I got nothing. Nothing, but a good feeling.

I love New York a lot. Everytime I walk out of my friends' upper-west side apartment, I get a little jolt of excitement. I'm in New f*cking York!

I haven't done much, yet. I've been swamped in re-writes ever since I got here. But I finished those last night and I think tonight I'll finally start seeing some Broadway shows.

Lots of things are closing on Broadway, which I know scares some. But I'm a writer. And now there are a ton of dark theatres that need really great shows to premiere. Hellloooooo!

I think I'll go see The 39 Steps tonight. That will be the beginning of me spending lots and lots of money that I don't have. Ah, well. Write offs!