Meanwhile, Downtown at Mac’s Bar . . .

… an effort to write what could be a monologue in a play . . .

Siddown and listen, willya? Look, it ain’t rocket science at all. We got these goofs running for president and you know, they got me steamed . . . I mean steamed like pure boilin’ water that just scalds me inside and out. Why can’t there be someone sometime who will just listen out loud instead of yack out loud alla time? I don’t get how they talk so much about how we gotta do this and gotta do that for the little guy but then they make it so some people who get so much more than their fair shake when there are people who could use any kind of shake at all, much less a fair one. And you know what else I’m sick of? I’m sick my car fallin’ apart from goin’ over bad roads and bridges. I’m tired of seeing pictures of the kids in school in ol’ flimsy desks that still got their grampa’s name still carved in ‘em and plaster chunks fallin’ off the wall – and then I turn around and see that there’s some big snot govermint dude pissin’ about how its soooo tough to only get a new car every two years and only have 15 weeks off a year and still get five times more money than good ol’ Dicky here behind the bar, pushin’ his drinks just to earn enough to make a house payment. Just don’t make no sense. And all that Middle East crapola – it just seems so useless to mess around with – but that doesn’t stop those weepy eyed talking heads on TV tellin’ me all about who is shooting who and how it costs so much, well, dammit, if it costs so much then why – hey I’m talkin’ to you – why do they do it? I mean, lookit ol’ Butch there at the pinball machine, who ain’t been the same in the head since he lost himself a leg with one o’ them roadside gizmos seven years ago over there and he gets told in the hospital he’s gotta wait and wait to get more help. I’m no more nuts than everyone else in this bar – we’re pretty much all good people here, and just want to see the govermint work and see all those poly-tishins pay attention once or twice when they’re in town. Let THEM get shot at and get a arm ripped off. . Let THEM not be able to make a house payment because the factory got shut down. Let THEM drive down the roads that are hardly better than dirt. Let THEM walk under the bridges and see the rust. Let THEM see our souls rust and corrode just like the bridges while we wait for ‘em to do something. Well, like I said, it ain’t rocket science. Hell, my beer makes more sense than those bozos. You just watch. I’m just gonna vote for my beer in the next election. It’s got a better head on it than any o’ those boobs that are runnin’, and I don’t care what party you’re talkin about. I just wish they’d get the job done or let’s just jerk every last one o’ them outa there!

 

MONEY MONSTER; a movie review

Money1

Starring George Clooney, Julia Roberts
Directed by Jodie Foster

Take your bigmouth TV economic show-off, add a quick thinking director of that bigmouth TV economic show-off, and multiply it by a very angry, armed small time investor, and you get this movie.

Excitement comes along in the form of nasty banter (F bombs aplenty, folks), intense moments between characters, situations that snap along at a pace that require the audience to watch and listen all at the same time – and don’t forget some of the humor (often snide, biting and/or stinging).

Clooney portrays the mouthy host of the advice show with a practiced eye – and it is clear Mr. C has observed such characters on TV, which allow him to craft his character with plenty of the personality we hate to love from such folks. He is dashing, he is quick – and yet plays it cool when the armed investor enters the scene.

Roberts gives her character a great deal of quick thinking skill – professionalism as a TV director, and some fine wit, which is a sign of some very good writing. Despite the emergency of a madman in her studio, she holds together her control room crew, her stage crew, and in so many ways, the whole situation. Solid job, Julia.

Jack O’Connell plays the down on his luck schmuck who has lost money in the stock market – and he blames the Clooney character for that loss … and in will no uncertain terms, and with any amount of anger, will extract his pound (or 8 million pounds) of flesh.

There’s more than the drama here. Clooney has given us films about the game show cover-up (QUIZ SHOW) and another fine piece on Edward R. Murrow (GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK) … and now this one that combines the loud brashness of a TV money advice show, an armed angry man, and a wall street deal that has gone so inexplicably sour – well, no spoilers here….

And as I was watching, I heard echoes of past films that addressed similar situations…. NETWORK, DOG DAY AFTERNOON, CHINA SYNDROME, and even THE TRUMAN SHOW can be felt as influences. Roll bit and pieces into the fine writing for this one, and there you go – another fine Clooney-produced number with a solid cast and good writing.

Regarding the whole transgender bathroom issue (and the ramifications thereof)

public-restroom

Let me take you back four months to Christmas Eve. Raise your hand if you spent a lot of time worrying about the issue I mention above. That’s what I thought – virtually nobody at all.

I’ve shared my theory on a few MEMEs that have popped up. Here it is.

THEORY: Virtually no one was concerned with, nor even aware of, a transgender bathroom issue until some legislator in some state decided that it WAS an issue – no, wait. Not an issue – a crisis; a crisis which required immediate action in the form of a law. END THEORY.

And then it hit.

Fan them flames, folks, whether it’s a fire or not.

And now we have people posting concerns about children getting mugged in the bathrooms. We have postings and pictures of “odd looking people” that carry texts that surmise what such a person might do in a bathroom. We have people posting similar things about how it’s not a problem so everyone else should just be quiet.

And we have states banning travel by state employees to one state or another based on what that original law-maker got passed.

And we have corporations that are making statements about how they’ll handle business within the jurisdiction of that original lawmaker and his law.

And we have people boycotting businesses who make some sort of statement about that original lawmaker’s law.

Don’t you wish we could get the same kind of fervor when it came to rebuilding our roads or improving our schools? Or when it came to funding schools? Or airports? Or tax policy? Or foreign policy?

It is time to stop these lawmaker-created crises… and its conservatives and liberals alike that come up with such things. Ban this. Limit that. Requirements. Penalties. Fines. Plug in your own favorites here as well. Many topics will fit, I guarantee it.

Government needs to be a positive thing; one of the words in the preamble of our constitution is “promote”.

Let’s get back to that. Time to start promoting, folks, instead of what we’re doing lately.

Community Theatre as a gift …

I have been given a gift.

 

That gift is community theatre.

 

Upon the upcoming opening of SPAMALOT here in Brainerd, allow me to describe that gift.

 

It’s the people, folks.  When it comes to friends I’ve made in theatre, I cannot possibly make a list of names, for fear of leaving people out, so I won’t go that far.  But if I put together a list of people I have gotten to know through community theatre, that list would include custodians, bus drivers, teachers, secretaries, students, computer technicians, professors, nurses, designers – and more.  Many of these remain friends; even though we may have not seen each other in several years, a little contact via Facebook or a chance encounter brings back all the joys of the shows we shared.  I also suspect this will remain true for the new friends I am making with this latest show.

 

I have shared the stage with people who used to be my students – and that is a very special relationship for me.  Community theatre bridged us from that teacher-student world to the friendship world, and I wouldn’t change that for anything.

 

I have shared the stage with theatre friends more than once – some going back decades.  Again, no names, but you might say a certain mayor of Finland and a certain member of the round table fit here.  I am sure that I will be able to say the same about the SPAMALOT cast – I am sure our paths will cross again over time as more shows come and go.

 

And those not on stage – the musicians, the techies, the directors, the ushers and marketing folks in the ticket booths – so many friends out of that arm of theatre are there, too.  I’ve not done much with tech over the years, but I’ve learned a whole bunch of stuff.  I’ve been a member of the pit orchestra several times – in fact, that was where I started with CLC theatre, back in the late 70s when a certain young lady (who later went on to play in a recent production of GLASS MENAGERIE) played the lead in THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN.

 

And on a personal level, community theatre gave me my wife – In 1982, while auditioning for GUYS AN DOLLS, the rehearsal pianist and I hooked up.  Lo and behold, a year later, Sue became my wife.  I can also say that I’ve shared the stage at one time or another with my two kids – in fact, all four of us were in OKLAHOMA in 1994 – and as far as I know, my son still holds the record for the youngest kid to have a spoken line on the CLC stage – “Who’s gonna be the auctioneer?”.

 

And the audience –  the support from friends and family  who come to watch a show just because they care enough to come see what I’m up to – that kind of stuff is priceless.   Then there’s the random chance of someone recognizing me for having done a part in a show – oh yes, a very special, humbling experience.

 

So to all of you connected with SPAMALOT, on and off the stage – may you be equally be blessed as I have with all the wonderful people connected with community theatre.  May you continue to enjoy the blessings that come from those people.

 

And I hope we share the stage again – real soon.

Movie Review: WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT

wtf

WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT

Tina Fey’s first shot into dramatic film making

Uninteresting? Yes. Unsatisfying? Yes. This movie was like reading one of those books where you’ve read over half of it, waiting for it to get started, so you don’t want to put it down because you have time invested in it – but then you get to the end and realize you pretty much SHOULD have put it down at about page 15.

There was no hook in the first few minutes. That should have been my first warning. But I stayed because I wanted to like it – I really did. I had hoped this would have been a good vehicle for Tina Fey to show her dramatic chops. We know she can rock it totally when it comes to comedy. There were moments when we could see that Tina Fey could indeed crack off a good dramatic moment, but apparently, this wasn’t going to be the movie to do it in.

Some have taken this movie to be a comedy. Negatory on that one, even with the producing team of Lorne Michaels and Tina Fey.

I am not a big fan of f-bombs and similar language… but that didn’t bother me in this one – it’s a military situation in Afghanistan – that’s going to be how the people talk, so no big deal for me at all when it comes to that.

There were a few story lines – three of them, really, and each of them took about five minutes to tell. That left 136 minutes of the rest of the movie to sit through . . . which, for the reason mentioned in the first paragraph, we DID sit through. Each of these stories could have been a movie in themselves with the right kind of writing and focus, but no, that didn’t happen.

Why the dissatisfaction? It might have been the writing – like I said, the three story lines took fifteen minutes. How does a screen writer fill up the rest of the time? I guess the answer is that you write a bunch of little vignettes. As a cinematographer, you shoot scenes of dark rooms while the characters are partying in the Afghanistan desert, or you shoot bouncing, shaking shots of vehicles racing down the dirt roads, or . . . well, that’s what it was.

So, I can’t give this one any kind of thumb up; more like a hand wave that says, “Eh…. “.

Facts:

151 minutes running time

Cast includes Tina Fey, Margot Robbie, Martin Freeman, Alfred Molina, Billy Bob Thornton

Written by Robert Carlock (screenplay) based on the book by Kim Barker (the Tina Fey character) titled THE TALIBAN SHUFFLE:STRANGE DAYS IN AFGHANISTAN AND PAKISTAN

Directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa
Produced by Lorne Michaels and Tina Fey

Poetry Time: Joyce’s Acorn

JOYCE’S ACORN

 

Equations rule physical existence.–

 

Gravity forces Newton’s apple

To fall at a specific speed.

 

Air pressure of a certain strength will

Lift the Wright Brothers’ airplane.

 

A ship at sea remains afloat

According to the laws of displacement.

 

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

 

And so many more . . .

 

Plain.

Simple.

Perceptible.

 

NO such equations

Describe the effects of

 

Motherly love.

 

Apathy.

 

Child-like laughter.

 

Deep-seated hatred.

 

Such conditions defy all calculation.

 

Complex.

Abstract.

Intangible.

 

The mystery lives on:

How is it all possible?

How is it all NOT possible?

My Problem with Senator Rubio (and Those Like Him)

150807_POL_Rubio.jpg.CROP.promo-xlarge2

Look folks, there’s Rubio praising his God and saying everything he does will be based on what he believes – making it sound like it is something that separates him from so many others.  Well, I have a problem with that.  He is no different.  We all bring our beliefs to the table.

 

Don’t you think that if a guy is a staunch outdoorsman, he’d bring that to the table – or if a lady is a master gardener, she’d be influenced somehow?  Or a teacher, or a pacifist, or a retired person, or a teenage kid, an artist, or an LGBT person?  We all bring our stuff to the table.  You have yours, your neighbors have theirs.  We all come to the table – no one’s background is any more or any less valid than the other.  First point:

 

I, like the senator mentioned above, would bring my Christian upbringing to the table.  Born and raised Lutheran, with smatterings of other denominations thrown in for fun.  There’s a certain Bible verse of how Jesus stands at the door and knocks.  (From REVELATION 3:20 – Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with me.)

 

See what it says there?  I see Jesus knocking.  The person on the other side of the door may or may not open the door.  It seems that Senator Rubio sees is quite differently . . . he sees not only Jesus knocking, but barging in, no matter whether the  other person accepts it or not.  This is where I part ways with Senator Rubio. When I share my beliefs, that’s all I can do.  I cannot make someone accept for themselves what I believe.  That’s not up to me.  I am no expert in the scripture, but I know of no place where Jesus chased someone down and MADE them believe what he had to say.  I wish Senator Rubio would do the same.  Next point:

 

I was also raised as the son of World War II veteran, so I also bring a pretty good chunk of American patriotism to the table, who was taught to respect the basic of that good old American sense of our representative government.  Standing when the flag comes by in a parade, removing my hat at appropriate times, voting, staying in tune with what’s going on in our country – that’s there, too.

 

One of those things that I have learned is that our country’s government is intended to be a representative government, a republic.  Everyone has the right to be heard by their elected officials, who in turn need to reflect that in their work as senators or representatives or judges or even presidents.

 

So if I choose to run for an elective office of some sort and actually get elected, you can pretty much bet that I bring what I bring to the table.  My Christian/Lutheran background will be there.  My understanding of how our government works will be there.  I trust that what I have learned from my earthly father and heavenly father will work together and be an asset, working in tandem to be a productive person for those who have elected me.  I apologize for neither, and am proud of both.

 

Is it fair to expect the same of those out there running for office?  I think so.

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