Monday, June 30, 2014


There I said it.  There is little comfort in any of the decisions the Supreme Court Justices have made.  The latest today is such a huge blow to women in America, decided by 5 men.  It says that privately owned companies, i.e. Hobby Lobby, can pull their religious beliefs over the right of women and refuse to pay for contraception in the Affordable Care Act. Are you kidding me???  As a woman, I am so disheartened.  As a Non-Christian, I am feeling less and less a part of this current society.  I pay taxes through the nose, but am getting very little back.  If we could just get to a point of live and let live, but that's not possible.  The freaking religious Right is gaining ground and control of this country.  The conservative Right controls the Supreme Court, which is supposed to be non-partisan, but that has gone the way of the rotary dial telephone.  We, the people, are in trouble in this Country.  We, the people, need to stand up.  I have said it before and I will say it again.  For whatever reason, the Right can light a fire so easily under their base.  The Left or Independent can't.  We sit back and watch as Our rights keep getting eroded for things that we don't believe in or think is right and do nothing.  Is it disbelief?  Are we ostriches?  Can we possibly keep thinking that this stuff isn't happening?  It's happening.  The Supreme Court has taken another step in taking away the rights of women over religiosity.  I am stunned and can't believe that Hobby Lobby's religious freedom overrides mine.  Don't believe for one second that this isn't a Christian decision. If Hobby Lobby were Muslim, Jewish, Hindu or any other religious owner, this never would have happened.  This decision is based on religious beliefs, not the Constitution of the United States.  The Justices can refute anything that I am saying, but they will never get me to believe them.  They have proven biased by religion, gender, color, sexual preference, and anything else that could be considered "other."  You can't tell me that Clarence Thomas is black.  He is a disgrace to the robe and to the African American community.  Is it me?  Has the Supreme Court always had this much bias?  I think it's evolved over the past 40 years.  Where once we, the people, felt that there was a safety net for the keepers of the Constitution, that has dissipated.  It's a terrible feeling.  A deep feeling that everything is spinning to shit and we can't stop it.  There's no one to stop it.  The President has been found lacking.  The Congress is useless and too divided to really care about all the people.  And now, the Supreme Court of the United States of America has proven over and over again to not have our backs.  

So, what do We do????  Help me.  How do we light a fire in districts that are having contentious elections.  I live in NY.  We don't have big elections locally or State-wide.  How can we advocate for change and demand changes in laws to help all the people, not just some of the people?  We have important issues in this country, this isn't one of them, until now.  This decision only hurts women and disproportionately poor women.  Where do we go from here?  I won't shop at a Hobby Lobby or any other company that infringes its religious beliefs on my life.  I never even heard of Hobby Lobby until this case, so that will have little effect.  I am open to suggestions.  I am currently out of ideas and am flooded with feelings.  Help!

Update: Though the Supreme Court decision is terrible, the worst possible news came out of Israel this afternoon. The three male teenagers that were kidnapped, Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar, and Eyal Yifrach, were found dead today in the West Bank.  Such a tragedy of great proportions. Now what?  There is no rhyme or reason to this heinous act of murder.  No justification.  These were boys.  

Sidebars:  If people wonder what the magic is to the New York Yankees, you only have to witness on old-timers game.  It is like nothing else, and is rooted in the history of baseball.  I think it is unique to New York.  It is worth going to once in your life if you are a lover of the game.  It's a brotherhood.  To see greats like, Reggie Jackson, taking photos of other greats is surreal.  The players all seem in awe of each other and it is one of the few ways to really see the through line to the past.  I never mentioned the passing of Tony Gwynn.  It really hit me hard.  He's my age.  His entire career happened in San Diego after I moved to NYC, but his greatness on and off the field was famous.  Never heard a bad word against him.  When he retired from the Padres, Bud Selig honored Tony Gwynn and Cecil Fielder at the same time.  Talked about how great they both were to the game, but the one thing that Bud Selig didn't say and should have said, both Tony Gwynn and Cecil Fielder played for one team their entire careers.  Their fans got to know them and feel like family.  Lost all respect for Bud Selig at that moment.  Bud Selig has been terrible for baseball, great for capitalism.  Go USA in the World Cup.

Please feel free to re-post, re-tweet, or forward to a friend.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

What Do You Think?

Today in the NY Post there is an article about a city college turning down a $10 million dollar grant.  What??  On face value, it's appalling.  How can any college turn down any money from anyone?  A closer look.  The Koch Brothers wanted to give CCNY (City College of New York) a grant for business.  Still feel the college should have taken it no matter what?  There is definitely not a clear cut answer, but think of what you are teaching the students.  We take money from anyone even though we are diametrically opposed to everything they stand for politically. Just think what the Koch Brothers are trying to do to democracy?  They are trying to influence the outcome of elections and therefore policies.  Policies that by and large are against the youth that are going to CCNY.  It's not the first time that people have stood by beliefs over money.  It's just unusual for a struggling college to stand up and be strong.  They could use the money definitely.  I think it's admirable to demonstrate we have beliefs and values that can't be compromised.  I admire their stance. I wonder how the students feel....

The Central Park 5 are five men that were charged, indicted, and jailed for some 20 years for raping a jogger in Central Park.  This was a huge crime and trial. They were absolved of wrong doing and freed not that long ago.  They sued the city of New York for $250 million.  They settled for $40million.  I thought the City got off easy.  The Blowhard Donald T***p thinks the city gave them too much.  He's been very vocal against the settlement.  As a tax payer, I was thrilled.  First of all, to get this all behind us is preferable.  These men can never get back the years they lost in jail.  Maybe they will do some good with their lives and money.  Maybe there are lessons to be learned.  Maybe they can gain some modicum of a normal life.  

Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber.  Now, before you just skip ahead, think about it. Every time I hear they are on again or off again, I groan.  That it's news is annoying.  If they were just two young people that weren't famous, they would be just classic messed up young lovers.  Their story isn't new but they are in the spotlight.  Everything about their love is predictable and been done many times before.  It's unfortunate that girls often date boys that aren't nice to them, break up with them, forgive them, and get back together again.  It's a cycle that needs to be broken.  These young people on the surface aren't right for each other and should take their supposed love underground or, better yet, elsewhere. So girls, listen up.  Learn from this.  If you broke up with your boyfriend for a reason, the reason doesn't usually go away.  He still wants time alone, flirts with other girls, wants to be with the boys, doesn't treat you nice, doesn't compliment you, never responds to texts, etc. etc. etc.  Selena keeps buying into the apology until next time.  And there will be a next time.  He will do something that hurts her.  As for Justin, he's just a boy.  He's immature.  I don't like him on any level, but his ridiculous, offensive, inappropriate behavior is recorded. That's what's different between him and any boy his age.  He can't hide.  He needs to go away.  These young people need to find another path away from each other. If it's meant to be, they can meet up in ten years....

Okay, what about the Washington Redskins?  At first, the only people who started complaining about the mascot name were white men.  It gave me pause, but thought if the Indian Nation doesn't stand up and start screaming, maybe it's okay.  Fast forward to the direct, pointed, commercial the Indian Nation put together that aired during the NBA Playoffs.  They made it perfectly clear that "Redskins" is an offensive and unacceptable term.  It's not a term of endearment.  I'm not sure why it is finally getting traction now.  Stanford University had to forego the Indian mascot, which actually employed a native American, for the mascot name Cardinal.  Poor choice but they did that over 40 years ago.  Why did the Redskins get off until now?  The ground swell is growing.  Daniel Snyder, the owner, is digging in his heels.  He will not change the name.  The US Patent office cancelled many of their lucrative trademarks for clothing and memorabilia.  Still, Dan Snyder is not budging.  What can the government do?  Well, first off, take away the Washington Redskins tax-exempt status until he does change the name.  All tax money collected could go towards helping reservations around the country.  Dan Snyder isn't going to win in the end, I'm sure of that, but until then, it's time to dig in our heels too and not except it.  What about the Cincinnati Reds?  Atlanta Braves?  There are many professional teams that may want to start thinking how their mascot choices affect others.  Seriously, if Stanford had to give up the Indians....

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Reflections of An 11th Grade Parent

It is June 19, 2014.  It is the end of what can only be called the longest and hardest year.  Parents of older kids have often recounted how terrible 11th grade was, but as much as you can imagine the worst year, you can't possibly.  Having two children going through it at the same time multiplies it, but not by much.  The difference between kids today and when I was a kid?  We hardly sweated anything out.  We did our work, got our grades, took the SAT's and went to college. We didn't put a ton of thought into what it all meant.  Today's kids think about their futures all the time.  There is a heavy burden not only to get great grades but to hit the College Entrance exams out of the ball park.  And still, it's all a crap shoot.  The amount of promotional material that colleges and universities send is ridiculous as if because we receive their glossy magazine, we will choose the school.  Just like applying to private schools in New York and many other major metropolitan cities, it's not really our choice.  We can only present our best selves. The decision is all in the hands of the institutions.  

I digress.  The point is that from September to June of 11th Grade, it is without question the most arduous and stressful year.  As a parent, all I can do is provide quiet, meals, support, tutors.  I can't do the work and, to be perfectly frank, they are far smarter than I.  I hate that the children can't relax and enjoy their high school years.  These are supposed to be the glory years of childhood, but they've turned into uber stressful years. The lack of sleep is ridiculous. If schools would only take a poll and realize that children aren't getting anywhere near the amount of sleep needed to grow, be strong and healthy.  Is it possible they don't realize it?  The kids don't like to complain to teachers and principals.  They complain to their families.  Somehow the schools have received the message, that I definitely didn't send, that tons of work is the way to become productive adults.  I don't feel that way at all. I resent all the homework.  Always have.  I don't think most of it is valuable.  I understand math homework.  That makes the most sense, but if you don't have a good math teacher, it's useless and frustrating (which is how this year was for some of us).  

Anyway, 11th grade is far worse than you can prepare yourselves for and to what end?  We just finished a full week of finals.  Finals?? The kids were studying everyday for a different subject and studying way into the night.  The horror stories from Moms and Dads how little sleep their children have gotten are plentiful.  I think it's ridiculous.  With all that's at stake for 11th graders, the schools should ease up and help balance the work load.  There is plenty of time to sweat things out in college and then all of life.  Schools aren't interested in doing that.  Schools want to pile on.  A teacher asked me recently, how am I doing?  I had to laugh because though I didn't have to study for the finals or take the finals, I was equally as stressed watching my kids and their friends sweat out the week.  She completely understood.  They made it, we made it, we wait for their final grades and assessments, and they are now Seniors!!  Oy vey!

Sidebars: Now, it's summer break, and the World Cup is everywhere.  It is one of the best times in NYC because World Cup fever is contagious.  Every bar and restaurant has their TV tuned to the games and the flags of the countries are all over the place.  It's what makes New York City so unique.  The Big Apple has someone living and working here from every country playing. Everyone cares and it's infectious.  It's very exciting and a great diversion.  By the end of the Cup, I may even understand all the rules and intricacies.  Summer television is starting to pick up.  It's been very dreary waiting for new series and old to begin episodes.  I really am going to try to watch Orange Is the New Black, but not thrilled to watch on my computer.  I still think the best family show is America's Got Talent.  If you are looking for a throwback variety show, give it a go.  There are magicians, dancers, singers, acrobats, and anything you can think up.  Jersey Boys, the movie, opens this weekend.  I'm in, are you?  My kids are turning 17 next week.  I am flabbergasted.  Where did the time go?  It's a funny dynamic being a parent.  Your whole job is to prepare them to leave you and stand on their own and, at the same time, you want to lock them away and keep them safe.  Enjoy the first day of summer!  Keep breathing!

Please feel free to re-post, re-tweet or forward to a friend.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Tony Debriefing

The 2014 Tony Awards have come and gone, but for me it was one of the best shows in recent memory.  Hugh Jackman never disappoints, even if his hopping in the opening was curious and unexplained. His humor, charisma, and talent feel effortless and natural.  His script and unscripted patter and song seamlessly connect awards, snippets, and speeches.  I am a huge fan from the get go, but can't imagine anyone doing a better job, even Neil Patrick Harris.

This year's awards had special meaning for me.  I had been touched in my life and career by many of the nominees.  The ever great Tony Shalhoub was a client of mine for many years and he holds a special place in my heart.  His talent, humor, and humanity is always pervasive in all his characters.  His performance in Act One is brilliant and his only bad luck was being nominated the year Bryan Cranston finished Breaking Bad and starring in All the Way.  Any other year, it was Tony's year.  Not to say that Bryan Cranston wasn't also brilliant.  I do not take anything away from his great portrayal of LBJ in All the Way.  Audra McDonald also was a client in her early career.  A truly talented woman.  I haven't seen her performance in Lady Day, but, if I am completely honest, she is one of those talents that just stepping on the stage wins her a Tony.  The critics, the Broadway community and her fans are devoted and in tranced by her stardom, the x factor.  Whatever it is, she's got it.  She now has six Tonys and the first actress to win in all four acting categories at the ripe young age of 43.  Jefferson Mays starring in A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder is a very special talent.  Unique in every way. I was lucky enough to be one of his agents in his early years, too.  What an incredibly special and one of a kind actor.  And again, his bad luck, nominated the same year as Neil Patrick Harris blows every one away in Hedwig and the Angry Inch.  

Saving the best for last....Robert Freedman the lyricist and book writer of A Gentlemen's Guide to Love and Murder and one of the nicest men out there.  Robert and I went to UCLA together and I was honored and blessed to be cast in his one woman/one act play called Hello Gorgeous.  It was my greatest showcase in college, terrifying and fun!  Always a wonderfully gifted writer, we lost touch when I moved to NYC and our lives moved along.  Lo and behold, two years ago the buzz started to build in the regional theatres about this new musical with the long title and the buzz grew and grew until it was opening night on Broadway.  It's a fantastic, inventive show.  The cast is amazing and I felt hands down it should win Best Musical.  The word on the Rialto and all the prognosticators thought it should win but the jukebox musical about Carole King, Beautiful, would win.  Made me angry.  What message would that be sending for all the fledgling writers and composers?  As the evening went on, Facebook was a twitter that Robert won for Best Book, but they didn't show his speech on the air.  Appalling, but thrilling nonetheless.  Went passed 11pm until they announced Best Musical.  Drum roll please, A Gentlemen's Guide to Love and Murder won!!!!!!!!!!!!! Well deserved, dreams come true, and it's one for the good guys!! For those who missed the acceptance speech:

Okay, now I will have to rewind and do a few spot notes.  The Bullets Over Broadway musical number wasn't great and I couldn't get over that the actor Nick Cordero, playing a 1920's gangster, pronounced the "t" in often in the song Ain't Nobody's Business If I Do.  That was not authentic to the song or the period.  Aladdin's musical number didn't do anything for me at all.  I'm sorry about that, but it seemed so juvenile and Disneyfied.  Not classy.  Beautiful's musical number was good, but not great.  Jessie Mueller is special and did win for Best Actress in a Musical for playing Carole King. Carole introduced the scene.  For her unbelievable level of talent, it's stunning how uncomfortable she is in life.  I don't know how she ever became a performer.  Her music can't be matched, but....She, too, performed with Ms. Mueller and the cast.  After Midnight brought out the big guns to showcase their show.  Fantasia, Patti LaBelle, and Gladys Night and the rest of the cast sang and danced.  I personally missed Adrienne Lenox getting a featured role on the Tonys.  She was not only nominated but was fantastic in After Midnight.  Hedwig and the Angry Inch starring NPH was wild and intriguing.  Idina Menzel sang from If/Then.  For me, it will be never.  She always makes it hard for me to watch her.  She does have a beautiful voice but it doesn't translate on the boob tube.  The far too up close camera work emphasizes her overwrought facial expressions.  There were other great performances for the tenth anniversary of Wicked and the revival of Les Miserables.  The song sung by Sting didn't sell me a ticket of his upcoming show, The Lost Ship,  and the introduction by Gloria and Emilio Estefan confused the whole thing.  It was a weird combo.

Here's the problem with Broadway and many of these shows, many are limited runs.  They win Tonys and the shows are closing so tickets can't be bought.  The faux touting of the incredible record breaking box office by Judith Light over the Memorial Day week, left me irritated beyond all means.  Can't compare dollars to dollars because tickets have become prohibitively expensive.  The movies do the same thing.  The only real measure of success is the number of tickets sold.  That's all they should be crowing about.  Not the dollar amount.  I recently went to pick up tickets for three Broadway shows: All the Way, Of Mice and Men (starring James Franco), and A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder (a big Broadway Musical).  The least expensive tickets were from A Gentleman's Guide by $40/each!!!!!  Disgraceful.  The logical reason for this disparity is All the Way and Of Mice and Men are big stars with big salaries and are limited runs so they need to get their money, and then some, back.  Broadway is pricing themselves out.  It's almost $1000 for a family of four to go to the theatre.  That's hard to swallow.  I don't know the answer to counter that.  Inflation, unions, healthcare costs, yada, yada, yada.  

All in all, I think the Tonys did what they are supposed to do.  They give the public a taste of what's out there.  The Tonys did an incredible job of marketing for current and future shows, but sadly, they are preaching to the choir.  I don't know what the ratings were, but the people that watch year in and year out are people who already love the theatre. It's a shame because a show as well produced as last night's Tony Awards could have been eye opening and enlightening to many.

Had to add this: In Memoriam cut from last night's telecast

Please feel free to re-post, re-tweet, or forward to a friend.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Deciphering the Truth

Having a hard time deciphering this latest possible debacle from our government.  Did you hear the news that we released 5 "terrorists" from Guatanamo for 1 POW that had been imprisoned for 5 years?  From the initial reporting, I thought it was very odd.  I thought we never negotiated with terrorists.  I thought that was a rule never to be bent or broken, but we did.  I had never heard of Bowe Bergdahl until his release, but when the story began to unfold, I started questioning this decision from leaders.  President Obama didn't make this decision in a vacuum.  He did consult with the highest members  of Congress and the Pentagon, but there is something about this story that doesn't pass the smell test.  Bowe Bergdahl walked out of his base 5 years ago.  He deserted his post.  Why was he leaving camp?  What was his plan?  In that decision, he was captured by our "enemy."  In the past 5 years, 6 soldiers have been killed trying to rescue Bergdahl.  Even that doesn't pass the smell test.  Why in the world would we spend energy rescuing and negotiating for the release of a man that seemingly was bolting from his responsibilities?  How tragic for the parents and families of the lost soldiers fighting to save Bergdahl.  So what's the real story?  Is Bowe Bergdahl a spy?  I watch a lot of spy movies and television shows.  This feels far more like a CIA agent being captured and returned, than a possible deserter.  It feels more like Homeland than the face value they are feeding us.  It feels like a plot on Covert Affairs.  It doesn't make sense.  This is a story we may never know the full truth because of all the classified information, but it can't be what it seems.  We can't have made the decision to trade 5 Gitmo terrorists for 1 soldier that looked as if he was walking away from his comrades and post, If that's the whole story, it's positively dumbfounding.  

I keep getting more and more skeptical of everyone in government, leading us, making decisions on our behalf.  I don't care if it's a Democrat or Republican.  We, the People, are not getting served well.  The money is corrupting the system and the pool.  If we could get all the money and lobbyists out, maybe, just maybe, we could regain the trust we once had in our leaders and elected officials.  There is a movement in front of SCOTUS to regain control of the money pouring into the system, but I don't have much hope.  The once respected Supreme Court has turned into a bought and sold court.  Makes me sad and disappointed.  Am I too young (which I'm not) to remember it was always like this and I have romanticized the whole system?  That isn't a rhetorical question.  

If you can DVR and watch John Oliver's show on HBO this week, it is illuminating.  Though he is a comic in the tradition of Jon Stewart, he does an outstanding job in explaining the week's top stories.  This week's episode is how the far-right is taking over Europe.  He reminds us what happens when the far-right is in control and shows the hate being spewed by the citizens of different countries and rallies for their chosen candidates.  It is disturbing, to say the least.  The second half is all about net-neutrality.  He does an outstanding job of explaining what it means, what we could lose, who is fighting for and against, etc.  It is well worth your time.  It is an important issue and if we lose net-neutrality we will never get it back. Pay attention.  Read about it.  Write your Congressman and Senator.  Write the FCC and tell them how you feel.  Spread the word.  This isn't a little thing that may happen.  This is gigantic.  This is a threat to all of us that enjoy the internet and all its freedoms.  Here's a link to part of the episode, but find the whole thing.  It is well worth your time and maybe schedule it in your weekly recordings.  If you don't like the topics, then you can delete, but I think John Oliver is on to something:

Sidebars:  This current season of The Bachelorette has unfolded into a very uncomfortable and painful story.  Not for what happens on camera, well not exactly.  Eric Hill, one of the 25 bachelors vying for Andi Dorfman's attention, was off the show.  He was a self-described adventurer.  Hang-gliding one weekend, a gust of wind took him and slammed him into a mountain, crushing him and killing him.  The Producers of The Bachelorette decided to dedicate the season to him, but not edit him out.  I wonder how the family feels about that.  And on a lighter note, Andi Dorfman went to LSU and law school at Wake Forest.  She's been a prosecutor in Atlanta.  She said with a straight face in the last episode, "Dylan's and I's....!!!!!!!!  Seriously???  This isn't the first person on television to say this, but it's appalling.  We have a word people.  The word is mine! I can't stand the desecration of the English language. I can't stand it.  Sigh.  Tonight a great family treat is America's Got Talent.  If you have a family, this is today's Ed Sullivan Show.  Enjoy the day!  

Please re-post, re-tweet, or forward to a friend.