Tuesday, December 31, 2013


I don't think that lap band surgery has worked on Chris Christie.  I think he's eating right through it.  Hope I'm wrong, but....Anyone else hate the series of commercials with James Earl Jones and Malcolm McDowell? Why, why did they do it?  Why did the ad agency think it was a good campaign.  Who wants to hear James Earl Jones talk like a 12 year old girl?  Ugh.  Already not liking DiBlasio's first, immediate plan.  He wants to stop all horse and carriage rides in NYC.  Okay, I know that animal rights groups are thrilled, but you are taking away a tradition on your first day?  Taking away jobs from the drivers?  If they have to go away, and that's a big if, they should phase it out.  Don't give out new licenses and permits and let the people who already are driving the carriages to keep their jobs.  That would be more humane!!  I already am feeling that soon to be Mayor DiBlasio is going to make me seem like a Republican.  I think he may be too liberal even for me.  Ugh. Happy for Brian Boitano and Robin Roberts "coming out," but didn't everyone already know?  Can't wait for the day it doesn't matter at all, but thought both "announcements"  were odd. Television is concentrating on the big ball drop in Times Square.  I know that I am old, but I can't think of anything worse.  Thirty years ago, maybe, but today?? Forget about it.  Packed in like sardines, no bathrooms, food, or any creature comforts.  Don't even know how anyone at any age can stand for 10 plus hours.  Ugh.  I was there on the periphery New Year's Eve 1980. It was festive, wild and too many drunk people out on the streets, but it was fun because it was new.  You weren't trapped inside perimeters.  Anyway, these are just some straggling thoughts from the past that I wanted to get in before the close of 2013.  I am sure there are more, but I will hold them for next year.

So again, my friends and readers, wishing you and yours a fantastic, hopeful 2014.  Be safe and have fun.  

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Monday, December 30, 2013

Odds 'n' Ends

As I have ruminated about 2013, I have felt very let down by our government.  I have felt very hopeful about the arts.  I am apprehensive about the changing of the guard in the Mayoral position in New York.  I have found a sense of hope, surprisingly because I am not Catholic nor Christian, with Pope Francis.  This year that's coming to a close, it's been a tough one.  And that's both in the big picture and the individual picture.  I know many who have had a difficult year.

The anger and hate and venom that has been spewed all around the Country about different topics,  all lead back to Washington, D.C. has taken its toll.  The entire Affordable Care Act rollout debacle has been calamitous.  Can it recover?  I don't know.  We are a people that want everything right now.  We have become accustomed to immediate gratification.  We don't like to wait in lines, or hold on the phone, or wait for return calls.  We text and we want immediate response.  So, can the good be gotten from A.C.A.?  Is it even a good plan?  I have no idea.  All along I've said, something had to happen.  If the legislative bodies had the good of all people in mind, it would work, but with the rancor...?  Also, could the news anchors/talking heads call it the Affordable Care Act? Could they stop being lazy?  They all say Obamacare which is definitely a pejorative phrase created by some fantastically brilliant Republican think tank.  Why do the news producers help promote it?  Okay, enough on that.  2014 will clarify its success or failure.  

Mayor Bloomberg is finishing up his last two days of his third term mayoral position.  He has done good things and some questionable things.  Not sure that I can say he's done bad things.  The most controversial policy was stop and frisk.  Very complicated. No easy answers.  Our new Mayor-elect, DiBlasio ran his whole campaign against stop and frisk. We shall see what happens to NYC without it.  I have no idea. I am not fearful about it, just pondering.  Mayor Bloomberg also instilled many pro-environment regulations.  No smoking anywhere except on the street or in your own home.  Bike lanes, which I loathe.  Bike rentals aka CitiBikes all over.  He put together a huge forward thinking deal on Randall's Island to create a very high tech graduate school for Cornell and Technion Universities to promote future Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.  Have I loved him?  Well, honestly, I probably would've voted for him for a 4th term.  I really like he has no family that we have to hear about.  I am already dreading DiBlasio's family.  There's talk of his wife holding a position in his administration.  Ugh!  She may be brilliant, she may be incredible, but I didn't vote for her.  I am always aware that spouses hold sway over their mates, but that's privately.  So, we shall see what happens in 2014 in NYC.  

2013 was a great year for movies and theatre.  I can't speak about art and music, though Bruno Mars, Justin Timberlake, and Beyonce seemed to take the world by storm.  Maybe Justin Bieber will really retire and the world will be a bit better.  Miley Cyrus is a wait and see for me. There were movies for everyone this year that were high calibre.  Gravity, Philomena, Blue Jasmine, Saving Mr. Banks, and Catching Fire were standouts.  There were great family films this year that took the box office and the critics by storm: Despicable Me 2 and Frozen.  Theatre has long been a passion of mine but feel like I've been in a drought.  Not saying that there aren't wonderful things to see, but at the ticket prices not always worth it.  Thrilled for my friend, Robert L. Freedman, on the success of his new Broadway musical, A Gentlemen's Guide to Love and Murder.  Rave reviews, no stars in the cast, and wowing audiences.  I hope that it proves to be a big box office winner so that producers will take more chances again and not always the "sure fire hit."  Twelfth Night was a thrill with the all male cast led by Mark Rylance. There are so many other shows, but these are on my front burner.  Seeing After Midnight in the very first days of 2014.  Looking forward to that experience.  

I am a touch sad that Idina Menzel and Taye Diggs marriage is over.  Always seemed like an odd couple that was making it.  Guess not.  I don't want to hear one thing more about Kanye West and Kim Kardashian.  That's not possible, but why can't they just go away and live their lives privately.  Why do we have to hear about their excess and their tacky taste.  Did you see that Birkin bag??  Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.  Keep that in mind while planning your over the top wedding.  I wish that Carrie Underwood would've stayed out of the conversation about her performance in the Sound of Music.  She tweeted that the haters needed to love Jesus more or some such thing.  Stay out of it. It's for others to say. Can I say again, Justin Bieber please retire.  Let's concentrate on stories in 2014 that actually matter, that are positive.  If you re looking for a celebrity to follow, follow Jennifer Lawrence.  I don't think she will be a disappointment.  She's not only a wonderful young actress, she seems to have a very centered core and sticks to her beliefs.  

Things to look forward to in 2014?  Well, first off Downton Abbey,  starts Sunday, January 5th on PBS. If you haven't hopped on that train yet, you have time to watch all three seasons before Sunday.  I have to say I am looking forward to the Super Bowl in New Jersey.  Did I say outside in February?  It makes me smile with amusement that the NFL thought it was a good location choice. This may be the worst weather since Super Bowl XVI in Pontiac, Michigan.  The highlight...Bruno Mars at halftime. The Golden Globes the best awards show of them all. That's just he first month of the year.  There is so much more, stay tuned.

It's a new year. New beginnings.  New beginnings are always something to look forward to in my book. Clean slate if you want it.  Close the book and open a new one.  We are ready and poised for a positive 2014.  Make resolutions or don't, but stay true to yourself and be kind.  Pick up your head from your tech gadget and look around.  There are so many possibilities.  Don't miss them.  Thank you to all my very wonderful and loyal readers. Thank you to my infrequent readers and finally, thank you to my once in a blue moon readers.  You all matter.  Wishing you and yours a thoughtful, warm, loving, healthy, and successful 2014!!!!!

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Monday, December 16, 2013

Athlete Idolatry

I have thought a lot about Jameis Winston.  He is the quarterback of the Florida State University Seminoles.  I never heard of him until there were charges hurled against him for sexual assault.  To be honest, that did perk up my interest.  I am fascinated at the billed up and idolization of athletes.  I wondered what happened in this case and learned about it almost a year later that the charges were filed by the young woman.  Really?  It wasn't headline news when it happened?  What happened to the system?  To the reporting?  The local police dropped the ball on it.  Didn't find or look for enough evidence.  Is that the case?  The officials didn't want to take down their star quarterback.  Places like Tallahassee, live and die for their football.  Like so many towns in America.  What happened here?  Well, a year after the alleged rape, they brought in an independent attorney to see if they could charge Jameis Martin with a crime.  Don't forget the tom-toms were getting louder because the Heisman Trophy vote was upon them.  Surprise, surprise.  After one year of muddled evidence gathering and interviewing, the new States attorney found that there wasn't enough evidence to file charges.  What would have happened if it had happened a year earlier, right after the alleged incident?  How proud the Heisman voters can be of their choice this year.  No one ever bothered to investigate and prove one way or another of his innocence or guilt.  He was their guy and they awarded him with the highest honor in college football.  Good job sports writers, good job.

As a society, we have a serious problem with our love of sports and our athletes.  This is a perfect recent example.  The local authorities didn't treat Jameis Winston how they would've treated any other alleged rapist.  He was their man. Their star. Their idol.  The woman was just a coed.  She wasn't bringing joy and thrills into their lives.  She got into a bad situation.  We will never know what really happened here, but I feel strongly that something did happen.  Common sense is leading me to this conclusion.  The victim's family has stood by her this whole time.  They've been pushing for justice for a year.  They have pursued every avenue to find justice for their daughter.  I am a parent.  There's no way that I would fight this hard for my child if I thought she was lying.  She had injuries.  They believed their daughter.  They have found no victory here.  She has been pilloried. 

Much like the young girl in Steubenville, Ohio, whose life and family were destroyed by her charging rape against players on the local high school football team.  They had to move because she was getting bullied and threatened. They burned down her house.  Really?  She wasn't getting any justice for two years!!! Finally, charges were filed against many of the adults that looked the other way.  Finally, she can get her life back and find some semblance of victory and justice.  

But why should it be this way?  Why do we hold our athletes up so high that everyone else pales in comparison. Does the name Kobe Bryant mean anything to you?  I firmly believed he got away with rape.  They were going to attack the victim mercilessly on the stand for her sexual history, that she dropped the charges.  When OJ Simpson was first becoming a suspect, the Los Angeles police fawned over him.  OJ was one of the greats and was raised to the highest of the highs.  No one could believe it.  Present company included, but after about 6 hours it became fairly apparent that he was involved.  Unfortunately for the justice system, the disparity between rich and regular defendants was apparent.  No one had a better team of defenders. At all cost, the best experts and lawyers took team OJ's side.  The Los Angeles prosecutor made some big errors and didn't have the money to make it a fair battle.  OJ got off.  Thankfully, he committed another crime and is currently in jail.  Not fully satisfying because he did get away with a double homicide.  No doubt.  

So, how do we change our society? How do we stop putting athletes next to God and Jesus?  I don't know.  I have already ruminated about the passion and love of sports.  I can be as guilty as anyone being swept up in the mob mentality of cheering and booing, so I don't know the answer.  Something has to change.  And for those that want to blame the women, I can't support it.  I do think people that have a lot to lose, shouldn't put themselves in compromising positions.  Then there'd be no threat of any charges.  Women, too, should think twice, maybe five times, before going anywhere with athletes.  The playing field isn't even.

Sidebars:  I finished watching my first season of Survivor.  It was fairly fun.  Still hate the disgusting eating challenges, but entertaining nonetheless. Homeland finished its third season.  Wow!  Can't see the path forward for season four, but we shall see.  Went to see the all male cast of Twelfth Night with an incredible cast of English actors.  I was kicking and screaming about going.  It was cold. It was three hours.  Really resented the whole thing, though it was originally my idea.  It was exactly what theatre is supposed to do.  It transformed me from crabby to the happiest of places. Laughing aloud many times.  It is the true definition of theatre.  Loved every bit of it.  The actors squeezed every last laugh out of every last line without chewing the scenery in any way.  Flawless. Brilliant.  If you have the opportunity to see it here in NYC, don't miss it.  Freezing here in New York City.  More snow on the way.  

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Friday, December 6, 2013

The Hills Are Alive With the Sound of Cattiness

Last night, NBC did something that hadn't been done since 1957.  They dared to do a live performance of the Sound of Music.  What an undertaking. Huge.  The confines of a warehouse space and multiple sets.  Rehearsing for months and one shot, that's it.  NBC promoted the hell out of it.  Why wouldn't they?  They have spent millions to mount the production.  In order to get it produced, they had to hire a name.  They hired Carrie Underwood to star as Maria Von Trapp.  Really?  Carrie Underwood.  She walked away as the first country singer to win American Idol and has sold millions and won multiple awards since for her albums.  She sells out arenas globally and she is stunningly beautiful.  They needed a star.  She's a star.  They hired, for her love interest, Steven Moyer from the series, True Blood.  Audra McDonald, former client of mine and a 5 time Tony winner, was cast as the Mother Superior.  The cast was flooded with many New York theatre actors playing many of the smaller roles.  Christian Borle and Laura Benanti as Herr Detweiler and Elsa.  The excitement was mounting for weeks whether you cared or not.  NBC showed clips from rehearsals, interviews, and background shots.  Last night was the night.

At 8pm the incredible music from Rodgers and Hammerstein began.  It is a beautiful soaring score. The excitement was palpable.  (They produced the stage version, not the movie version).  No sooner did the production begin and Carrie Underwood began singing the theatre nastiness came out.  It was like reading Talkin' Broadway live but on Facebook.  (Talkin' Broadway is a website where people tear down shows and performers from the first second they step on stage).  It's nasty and bitchy.  So was this.  There were so many comments on Facebook tearing down every aspect of the production.  I know that everyone has the right to their opinion but it seemed so incredibly mean-spirited and God forbid you have FB friends not on the East coast, you took them all out and popped their bubbles before it even began in two thirds of the country.

I really was stunned by the vitriol.  Do you realize that you are all the reason we are where we are in theatre?  If you wouldn't support theatre with stars in the leading roles, producers wouldn't make money hand over fist.  The more money producers make with stars leading the casts of shows, makes them believe that shows can't happen without a "name."  Have you bought your tickets to A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder on Broadway yet?  No stars in it.  Great, great talent.  Rave reviews, some of the best of 2013.  TIME magazine picked it in their top 10 of 2013, but because there aren't huge names, it ridiculously struggles at the box office.  

So, NBC hired a big name in country music.  They promo'd Carrie Underwood's performance for weeks.  Nary a mention of Audra McDonald or any other actor.  The show rested solely on her shoulders.  She has never set foot on a stage before and was cast and accepted one of the iconic roles in musical theatre. Carrie Underwood took a chance.  She had more to lose than anyone.  She didn't need to do this.  She makes tons of money in country music. I think it was really brave of her.  I don't care if she rehearsed everyday for 6 months.  She has never acted, ever.  

So the sharp pencils came out from the first note.  Facebook people and, I presume Tweeters, tore Carrie Underwood down.  Few mentioned Steven Moyer whom I think was far more miscast.  So, where do I go from here?  I think it's fantastic that Craig Zadan, Neil Maron, and NBC produced The Sound of Music live. I think it's an incredible feat.  It went as smoothly as my eye could see.  I would hope that spoiled theatre lovers would support this kind of venture.  Not everyone in America has the opportunity to come to New York City or see National Tours.  They are expensive.  

So, if you want to let your dollars lead the way, support the shows without big stars.  It's the only way things will change, but put your claws back in.  No matter what, it is still the Sound of Music.

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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Silencing Voices

It bothers me that Martin Bashir resigned from MSNBC.  It's not that I don't understand the objectionable comments that put him in hot water, but one disgusting mess up and he's out?  Rush Limbaugh made several disgraceful and offensive statements about Sondra Fluke and he still keeps the airwaves humming.  Why is it that the Left leaning people always take a hit and the Right get away with it. Rush even stands more firmly on his stance and is seldom apologetic.  Martin Bashir made a public apology to the viewers and Sarah Palin but what about the idiotic thing Sarah Palin said that propelled Bashir to say such a disgusting thing?  That gets overlooked.  It's his reaction that takes him down not the "action."  

True for Alec Baldwin too.  He was again a blowhard and made insensitive comments to a paparazzo and lost his job.  I just hate that. Why can't the viewers be the deciding factor?  If everybody hates Alec Baldwin and Martin Bashir and can't forgive them for their idiocy, then the ratings will tank and that is democracy.  The way both these men lost their jobs makes me feel very uncomfortable. 

I also admire the brilliance of the right wing machine.  They are effective and stay on message no matter what.  They back up their own blindly, right or wrong, no matter what.  The left wing has no machine.  The left wing has differing opinions and points of view which makes it very difficult to get anything done.  The talking heads on the right can do or say anything with little consequence.  The left crumbles like a house of cards.  Can't take the heat or the never ending barrage of criticisms.  Just gone, out.  

So, sadly, I think, whether you like Martin Bashir or Alec Baldwin at all, they are gone off MSNBC just like that!  Off the airwaves.  Banished.  Exiled. Over.  The viewers are left without any say.  These aren't the only two that have been shut down, just the most recent examples.  

Ah, sports and the icons we make.  Have you heard of Jameis Winston?  No?  Well, he is the current beloved, winning quarterback for the #1 Florida State Gators.  He is up for a Heisman Trophy for his athletic prowess. Sounds great, right?  Well, he also has been accused of raping a coed a year ago.  The young woman's family has said that no one locally wanted to look into the allegations because no one wants to take down their local football hero.  Her family kept pushing and today the Florida State Attorney will make an announcement at 2pm on ESPN.  I personally want to thank Will Farrell/Ron Burgundy because without his cancelled co-anchor stint being cancelled today, the only people that would know about this story are the people that don't want to hear anything about their Heisman candidate.  Ah, sports.  Winning is all that matters.  Look, do I know what happened the night of the alleged rape.  Absolutely not, but this young woman and her family have not given up.  Common sense says who would do that, if it weren't true?  Does the name Kobe Bryant mean anything to you?  We love our sports stars and to hell with their off the field antics or crimes.  

Sidebars:  Tonight is the live Sound of Music on NBC starring Carrie Underwood.  Did you know?  They have over promo'd this and I hope it's as great as they are thinking it will be at NBC.  Out of the mouths of babes so to speak, we were watching the SNL Christmas special last night.  There was a skit starring Garrett Morris.  My child said, this isn't funny.  I had to laugh because generation after generation know that if Garrett Morris is in the skit, it's not funny.  I don't know why that is.  Maybe the writers in 1985 had no idea how to write comedy for a black man.  We always used his skits for a kitchen or bathroom break.  And so it goes. Go see Philomena starring Dame Judy Dench and Steve Coogan.  He wrote the screenplay. Great movie. Well worth your time and effort.  If Texas and parts of the South get slammed by an ice storm, are they going to ask for Federal assistance?  

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Pick 'em

As we come off the high of one of the most thrilling and heart-stopping College football Saturdays in recent memory, it propels me to speak of things I shouldn't even know about.  Sports betting.  No, really.  Do you know that betting on sports is illegal?  The only legal sports betting is inside Las Vegas casinos and at the horse racing tracks.  Did you know that?  How could you?  Sports lines are spoken about on every single news show and sports segments.  In newspapers across the country, a full page is devoted to the gambling line.  How is that possible?  How is it completely socially acceptable and blatantly flaunted and yet still illegal?

Another one of the great American hypocrisies.  I don't know what the moral and ethical hang up is and who is holding the keys, but it is without doubt the most astonishingly short-sighted view.  Can you imagine if sports betting was legal?  In London, there are beautiful, elegant betting parlors.  If we had that here, even without the real estate, we could be a completely flush country.  We could collect on all winning bets.  Just like the stock market which is legalized and acceptable gambling.  We would be out of debt.  We could stop hearing from all the Pols about how we have to cut this and that.  

Seriously, people, do you realize how ridiculous it is?  Do you look through your sports pages?  Do you see how much space is devoted to the betting lines?  Do you watch the sports shows?  It may have begun by the one and only Jimmy the Greek on CBS.  When he started openly picking winners for the bettors and sports pool players at home, it became second nature to all sports lovers.  The health and wealth of sports television grew because of all the gambling, albeit illegal.  If you could bet on it, it became a huge moneymaker.  So why is it still illegal?  Seriously.  What's wrong with this hypocrisy?  I don't get it.  It's everywhere.  Why shouldn't the government be collecting taxes?  They do at the race track.  If you win big, the first thing the government does is take their cut.  Why not for all the football bets?  Basketball bets?  Baseball bets?  (Betting on baseball is a huge losing proposition and if your loved one is, get a separate bank account). 

I think that you are getting my drift, but who is listening to me?  I just don't get it.  Who is standing on the mountain and keeps voting it down?  It's bull and shortsighted.  People gamble on sports.  Television stations, executives, teams, owners, are all getting more rich.  Why shouldn't the government?  Why shouldn't it come out of the shadows legally? Come on, people.  This is an easy one.  Stop being so holier than thou.  It's happening all the time, legal or not.

Sidebars:  The Good Wife is inconsistent in its writing for moment to moment. The Mentalist has jumped the shark.  Homeland is difficult to watch because of its intensity. The Blacklist is finished until January and so bloody and violent.  James Spader is that show.  The Voice is winding down. Tonight we will see who gets knocked off.  I predict Cole and Matthew.  Okay, here's a piece by a writer for The Daily Beast that I think everyone should read, especially anyone that is a coach or runs an athletic program.  Take the time to copy and paste on the link and read it: 
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/12/02/alabama-coach-nick-saban-s-folly-great-coaches-protect-their-players.html  .  
Off to see Philomena.  Happy Tuesday!