Monday, June 27, 2016

Does Anyone Have a Bot?

I am over 50 years old.  I have seen many changes over the years but one of the most staggering changes that I don't understand is what the hell a bot is?  All I know is that it has a huge advantage over me when I get on the phone or the internet to try to buy tickets for a concert, the theatre, a sporting event, etc.  When I was young, getting tickets for things was more a matter of do you have the money or how you would get there, not whether or not you could even get your hands on a ticket. Today, the bots are stacked against us.  The ticket sellers have screwed the pooch, so to speak.  

New Yorkers know that Billy Joel has been playing Madison Square Garden once a month for 18 months or more.  The Garden announces new dates, tickets go on sale and are immediately gone in minutes.  Seconds later they are listed on websites for inflated prices not face value.  That is 20,000 tickets per concert and tickets gone immediately.  

Hamilton, the hottest ticket in Broadway history, is also "trying" to stem the tide of price gouging and reselling by announcing that only 8 tickets per week, per week, can be sold to one credit card.  Seriously?  That's stemming nothing.  Who the hell needs to be 8 tickets per week unless you are making a career out of reselling tickets and own a bot?  They raised the cost of premium tickets to $850/ticket.  How does that stem the tide?  It just means that the resellers will charge $3200 or more a ticket!  None of these moves is helping the theatre goer.  

The ticket situation is a huge problem that I think can easily be stemmed, but the concert promoters and theatre producers don't really care as long as the tickets sell out.  Once in awhile a music group will try to help their fans by selling their concert tickets directly, which is fantastic, but that is few and far between.  

Taking out full page ads in The New York Times is meaningless now for regular ticket buyers.  Even special early ticket sales for different credit card promotions doesn't give you a leg up.  All good seats are gone instantly. So what's happening is the tickets again go to the mighty few, the 1%, the insiders.  It's angering, disheartening, and makes for a very unfair playing field, which always gets my goat.   

What can they do?  Well, one thing, concert performers should help take control of ticket sales.  They are making money on tour and could force the promoters to dismantle the bots somehow.  Theatre producers can do a lot more to keep tickets out of the hands of ticket brokers.  If you spend an afternoon at the Richard Rodgers Theatre, you can see all the brokers finagling more and more tickets.  One reader told me that the ticket brokers have multiple credit cards and keep sending people in with different cards for purchasing.  I heard from another that one person won lottery tickets 3 times for Hamilton.  That shouldn't be able to happen.  Clearly there is technology to keep track of names of winners and to lock them our for a certain period.  

Ticketmaster lost a class action suit recently and has to pay back $400 million dollars to customers that purchased tickets during a certain time period.  Well, instead of actually paying back the money, they are offering general admission tickets to concerts.  We had bought enough tickets during that time that we are due somewhere around 25 pairs of tickets to events.  My husband immediately went on line to buy tickets to concerts.  He checked NYC, laughable, nothing available.  Checked St. Louis, zero for anything.  San Francisco Bay Area, nada, rien, zilch. So WTF Ticketmaster?  You lost the lawsuit and still win?!!  We weren't looking for Barbra Streisand, by the way.  We were looking for anything that could be fun and palatable that maybe we would want to see or our kids or our friends.  There was nothing.  

The fix is in.  The whole ticket situation is a scam to the regular folk and no one wants to speak about it other than the NY State Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, and it is a huge problem.  You have to begin to take a long view.  Seriously, if people can't afford to go to concerts or the theatre or sporting events, what happens to the product down the road?  Does it go the way of the movie houses?  Think about it, people.  Looking for answers.

Sidebars:  Things that one should be DVRing for both politics and humor:  John Oliver on HBO.  He is exquisite and concise.  Samantha Bee on TBS is soaring and well worth the time.  Yes, they both lean left, so if you are on the "right," you may not enjoy as much, but you also may be able to hear things you wouldn't hear anywhere else.   -- Pride Weekend is over and though I didn't participate in person, the news  and Facebook coverage was very well done and moving.  The events all over were fully shared in photos and quotes.  The beautiful highlights of a very colorful weekend.  -- Hope you saw Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren today. Fan-fucking-tastic.  She is truly the pitbull to take on Drumpf and it's hilarious.  She is fearless and gets directly under his skin and his nails.  -- Hear that Free State of Jones, the Matthew McConaughey movie, is surprisingly excellent and another slice of little known American history. -- Finding Dory is still killing it at the box office and I still haven't been. -- The Bachelorette is tonight!  America's Got Talent tomorrow night.  -- Would love to hear any descending voices so if you have friends that wouldn't agree with me on my rants and ruminations, by all means forward to them.  -- Enjoy your week!

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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Crisis of the Guns

I don't get the gun argument at all. I just don't.  I don't understand the terror and fear of not having enough guns.  Guns for what?  Doesn't anyone see how dangerous too many guns are for our country?  Doesn't anyone understand that the majority of citizens recognize the need for reasonable gun control?  This argument has gone on for decades with no true compromise.  What the hell does anyone need automatic weapons for and large magazines?  Why?  These guns are for soldiers and war.  Do you think we are on the brink of war and nobody let me know?  Are you so afraid of "others" that the only safety is an assault weapon?  Who are the "others"?  Can anyone explain?  

Hunting rifles and revolvers, I understand, but the rest not even a little bit.  The massive weaponry is for one purpose and one purpose alone, to kill. That's it.  That's why they were created.  They can't be used for hunting.  If someone invaded your home, it's literally overkill to pull out your AK-47 or other assault rifles to take them out.  

So what the hell are you stockpiling for?  The more weapons you buy, the more people like me want to take away all your guns because your complete lack of rationale is mind-boggling.  Yes, I will take all your guns away if you can't compromise!  Don't ask me how, but the more you push back, the more unreasonable I am becoming.

Nothing was more moving and historic than to see the great Congressman John Lewis hold a sit-in in the halls of Congress.  It was amazing to watch more and more people give voice to this problem as the hours passed.  It was heroic and passionate.  The frustration is palpable.  The "do-nothing" Congress did something.  They had tons of support from the citizens of this Country too.  Just try to get through to your Congress person or the Speaker of the House...the lines were busy or the message boxes were full.  People were responding.  

So all of you that think the 2nd Amendment is so precious that it can't be touched, answer me this:  if you are crying about civil liberties being compromised, what about mine?  What about my choice not to own guns or feel safe at the Mall or at the movies or theatre or sporting events or college campuses?  Why doesn't that compromise my life and liberties?  Why does your obsessive need and love for guns trump mine not to own guns?  You aren't even that many, but you own an obscene amount of guns in this country and you see nothing wrong with that?  

What are you so afraid of?  You got so freaked out that a black man became President that you felt the need to stockpile an arsenal?  Is that it?  I just heard Kentucky is the State with the most guns.  Another State I can skip. I don't feel safe with your guns.  You may not even be trained.  You have fear.  That's all I can see, and guns and fear doesn't feel safe to this American.  I can go around and around on this, but you have to explain what it is.  What is the reason that you need assault weapons to hunt or protect your home?  You have to use your words not your guns and tell me, why???

That our elected officials don't vote the will of the People, "Houston, we have a problem."  You are supposed to represent Us and you're not.  You are representing the NRA.  The money stinks and is destroying us.  It has to stop so that you listen to the citizens of this Country and not to the few.  

My husband was so disgusted and pained by the mass murder in Orlando and thought for sure gun reform would pass in the Senate.  I knew it wouldn't.  The fact that 26 babies and teachers didn't move our Senators to do anything, I knew a club full of Gay people wouldn't be the ticket.  I don't know how they can look in the mirror, sleep at night, or call for another moment of silence.  I am sickened by your blatant hypocrisy and the pockets full of money you accept not to represent all the People of the United States of America. 

I can go on and on because my complete bafflement and disbelief lives with me everyday.  I shake my head watching the news and listening to our politicians.  I will go down this path, I am sure again, until I get answers and common sense gun bills pass.  I am sick about this. Words are cheap, but don't know what else to do.

Sidebars:  The most important thing about this day it is my babies' birthday.  The best part of me.  They are now young adults making their way out in the world in college, but they will always be my babies.  Happy Birthday to you both. -- America's Got Talent is still great family viewing.  Throwback entertainment with a modern twist.  The Bachelorette is plugging along.  Not the best season so far, but still all in.  The other trashy summer fare began last night with Big Brother.  -- The Broadway bound musical, Dear Evan Hanson started selling tickets.  Check your calendars and get your seats today.  Well worth the money and your time. -- The Broadway community came together to help raise money for the LGBT community in Orlando.  Seth Rudetsky brought many Broadway stars out to sing Bacharach and David's What the World Needs Now.  If you do nothing else, just buy it.  100% of the proceeds are going to help the community in Orlando.  If you haven't seen the video and enjoy your Broadway singers, Google it.  -- I hope everyone in the Southwest will be getting heat relief soon.  It's been a brutal weather year.  Fortunately, NYC has been fairly unscathed so far. 

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Monday, June 13, 2016

The Agony and the Ecstasy

I have been looking forward to Sunday, June 12th all week.  The 70th Annual Tony Awards were being presented and it's one of the great nights, if you are a theatre lover.  I've been watching them far longer than I've even seen live professional theatre, but I woke up Sunday to the news we all heard.  Twenty people killed in a shooting in a nightclub.  As it turned out, it was a far greater number, it was a gay nightclub, and it was being called a terrorist attack.  I can't tell you why when I heard it was a gay club, I burst into tears.  I think that it clarified the hate crime.  Dying for who you are.  I was/am truly shattered, but what happened afterwards sent outrage through my whole being. The tweets and reactions from many Republican leaders and the presumptive nominee were so self-protecting and lacking any real human feeling. How can you not be deeply moved by the sheer madness and carnage?  Why do politicians take sharp positions in a moment of tragedy?  Why isn't it a human feeling?  Any leader that isn't deeply moved by the 15th mass shooting in less than 8 years, shouldn't be in office.  Any leader that thinks about his political coffers over humanity, shouldn't be in office.  Any leader that is under the thumb of the NRA or any other lobbying group, should take a long look in the mirror and re-assess their priorities and their moral compass.  It is a sickening, outrageous, and inexcusable  lack of human reaction and you could see it in the face of President Obama.  He has no more words.  He and I can't believe we are still spinning our wheels over common sense gun control.  I have said it before and I will say it again, NRA members that support their leadership are culpable, too.  If they stood up and told Wayne LaPierre that he doesn't speak for them, maybe something in this country could change.  Crickets!  I'm sick of it. You are making sensible people want to destroy the Second Amendment, instead of being reasonable for all of our rights.   I'm mad as hell and don't want to take it anymore.

After, too many hours of hearing the horrific news. I did see that there was a bit of light at the end of this dark, dark day.  The Tonys!  James Corden was chosen as the host and before he did one thing, I knew he'd be perfection.  I did wonder how he and the producers would handle the tragedy and what James Corden did was nothing short of perfect.  It was truly and deeply heartfelt and clearly pointed out why the theatre community is special and unique.  It is what the whole world should be, but isn't:  loving, supportive, accepting, tolerant, etc.  Then, on with the show.

James Corden's opening number was a smash. Genius and so clever showing a "young" James Corden getting the theatre bug.  Knowing he could be whatever he wanted. Living from magical Broadway musical to Broadway musical.  The climax of the number was moving.  All these young kids came out on stage and he sang that they can dream and be what they want. The camera moved in on Corden and pulled back again and they were the adult Broadway actors. Great opening!

The Awards started with best supporting actress in a play. I will be very honest, I didn't see many plays this season, but very please to see multiple veterans win their first Tonys after a life in the theatre: Jane Houdyshell, Reed Birney, and Frank Langella.  Jessica Lange too but not a life spent in the theatre.  So, I am glossing over their beautiful wins and speeches.  Thrilled that Renee Elyse Goldsberry won for Hamilton.  I have been a fan for a long time. She used to be on One Life to Live, which is where I first saw her.  On one episode she opened her mouth to sing and she blew me away.  She is beautiful and, oh so, talented.  

Up next, Shuffle Along did a number and it did not impress me.  Wouldn't sell me a ticket from what they showed.  Daveed Diggs won for Hamilton.  Embarrassed to say, but I didn't realize until watching 60 Minutes' piece on Hamilton, that he played two roles.  He deserved that Tony.  Lin Manuel Miranda won for lyrics and music for Hamilton and gave a truly moving speech.  He was deeply affected by the tragedy in Orlando and came prepared.  Of course, no one could criticize his having a prepared speech.  There was no doubt Hamilton would win multiple awards.  She Loves me did their excerpt from their show.  I think it landed.  I love the show so much from the last production 20 years ago. It's a great score and a talented cast.  Fiddler on the Roof, another musical revival from the amazing Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock, left me a little cold.  Danny Burstein who is so talented was minimally featured as Tevye.  I'm not sure why the producers went with that number, but I think his performance is a huge selling point.  The excerpt from Bright Star was unsatisfying. The lead character is singing about her story, but we never find out what her story is.  To be honest, it wasn't  compelling enough of a hook for me to care. :-( 

James Corden did a great bit about all the people that are on Broadway but you may not know their names, but you know them from all the Law and Orders they guest starred on. It was hilarious.  All the Law and Orders have been a constant source of employment for the New York City theatrical community.  Corden just pointed out some of the multiple roles they played, particularly Danny Burstein, over the years.  New Yorkers have always known this about the acting community, but it's great to point it out to America.  

Sheldon Harnick, the lyricist of the Broadway revivals of She Loves Me and Fiddler on the Roof, received the Tony for Lifetime Achievement.  He is truly one of musical theatre's treasures and it was shameful not to give him his due on national television.  We have few of these wonderful veteran theatre makers.  We should have gotten the privilege of hearing his speech.  He would've received a standing ovation.  He is beloved.  

Next up, they brought out Diane Lane to describe the Best Play Revivals and then Claire Danes for Best Play.  Both these women sounded and looked beautiful  I am grateful that they didn't show scenes from the plays live, as in past seasons.  They don't work and this was a classy way of framing the nominees.  By the Way, Arthur Miller's A View From the Bridge  and Humans won, respectively.  Keri Russell of Felicity and The Americans fame came out to introduce the musical version of Waitress ( she starred in the original movie version).  I will make one fashion comment here, way to revealing and not attractive, but here comes the excerpt.  Sigh.  I really wanted to love it, but felt so depressing.  Don't think that it was the right songs to share out of context.  

Chita Rivera came out and introduced the In Memoriam portion.  They were very smart to disclaim upfront that this is a sampling of those we lost, but not all.  Can't get the backlash.  Very smart.  Well done and always sad. Chita looked amazing!  

I am not going to list every winner, but it was sheer joy to watch the look on Lin Manuel Miranda's face when Leslie Odom, Jr. won best actor in a musical,over him .  That was beautiful and well deserved.  Cynthia Erivo made a beautiful speech when she won for The Color Purple.  The final award of the night...Best Musical.  Barbra Streisand made a return to the Tonys for the first time in 45 plus years.  She presented the Tony to the winner...Hamilton!!  She looked beautiful and happy to be there.  

This was an evening this theatre girl needed.  It was classy, emotional, funny, and long, but well worth it.  Helped turn the day around for a few hours.  There's so much more that I could say about this show but, really, thank you, I really needed this.

Sidebars:  My baby girl kept bringing up another show, Dear Evan Hanson, which she loved so so much.  It will be opening in November on Broadway and we can only hope that it can make the kind of difference and splash as Hamilton.  -- After the Tony's ended, I got an email alerting me that the next batch of Hamilton tickets went on sale.  FYI, tried and no tickets available.  All sold out in minutes.  This will be a constant rant about the ticket problem, but I will say that a young person pointed out the irony that the Hamilton audience is largely white privileged people.  Hmmmm. -- Tonight is Game 5 in the NBA finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers. My love/hate relationship swung back again with LeBron James.  His incessant whining helped get a Warrior player suspended for Game 5.  It's disgusting and shocking that the NBA would do this.  I'm not saying there may not be issues with the player, Draymond Green, but Game 4 was rough and tumble and LeBron James got away with tons and tons of fouls.  Go Warriors!!!  Finish it off and show them! -- San Jose Sharks lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins for the NHL Stanley Cup.  Hockey season is officially over.  --
There are tons of petitions going around now on Facebook and email regarding automatic weapons and gun control, sign them.  May not help but maybe the leaders will unplug their "earbuds" and start hearing the majority of the American people.  

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Monday, June 6, 2016

Shots All Around

I have been ruminating about so many things this past week.  Ever since Drumpf spoke to the NRA and they endorsed him, my mind has been sloshing around with thoughts, fears, ideas.  How the hell did we get here?  Drumpf wants "no gun free zones!!"  I cannot compute that thought.  Maybe he's pandering, but if he doesn't believe it, the people he speaks to do, so the harm is the same.  Nothing is more terrifying than getting a text from your child that they are in lockdown at school and there's a shooter somewhere on campus.  I never imagined how I'd feel until a few weeks ago and I hear my text whistle.  I couldn't believe what I was reading.  I, honestly, burst into tears.  The terror that filled my entire body.  The anger that our children are living in a world that guns are so prevalent filled my from bottom to top.  When I was a child, we had earthquake and fire drills.  When my husband was a child they'd have drills for "nuclear" bombs.  As if ducking under a desk would help, but it gave us some feeling of control, maybe.  

Now, this love and out of control gun population is being allowed to rule our lives.  The numbers aren't as big as all that, but they are mighty.  The NRA is supporting and being paid by gun manufacturers.  The fear the NRA has for our repealing the Second Amendment is becoming a self-fulling prophecy.  I've never been against hunters or home protection, people, but the more guns and automatic weapons people can own without any oversight, licensing, or any other controls is f**king ridiculous.  For the bullshitters that think this gun explosion is what our forefathers intended, they are ignorant buffoons spreading fear and hatred.  No surprise that the numbers of guns owned by the few shot up when we elected the first African-American President of the United States of America.  Not a coincidence and the NRA just fueled the fire.  

Not that I wish this ever, but does Drumpf have to have his children or grandchildren live through an hour of terror for his eyes to open to sensible gun control?  Does Wayne LaPierre have to lose a child or grandchild at the hands of a gun-toting maniac for him to get his head out of his ass? Why can't you see the danger before it occurs?  I truly hate Drumpf and what he has able to feed and fuel without any pushback.  Why, if the Republicans know he's bad for the Country and their Party, stand up?  Lose the Presidency with integrity and decency.  Who knows, just maybe you would get some people that feel unwelcome to respect you and join you the next round....


Now, since Facebook has had "trending" controversies, I've been puzzled about the whole topic.  Since it came to light that FB was accused of manipulating trending topics away from Republican stories, I've been watching like a hawk what trends on the right side of my FB page.  Seriously, I get crap trending.  No politics on either side of the aisle shows up.  I get entertainment, sports, who broke up with whom, who fell off the stage, garbage.  All "pop" culture trends.  Black Chyna and Rob Kardashian are having a baby.  Lots of baseball news.  No politics.  I'd rather politics, but it's not there.  You may say that FB knows what I click on, but I click on tons of news and politics, so that's not it.  So, is this a true problem?  Does anyone get politics trending on your right side of your newsfeed?  I really want to know, if it's just me and if it is, how can I get topics that matter more to me rather than everything Kardashian....


Tomorrow, Tuesday, June 7th is a big and final primary day for Clinton and Sanders.  The rhetoric from the Sanders camp is damaging the Democrats.  I have read and heard so many Sanders supporters say they'll never vote for Clinton.  I have yet to hear the reverse.  I don't know one Clinton supporter that wouldn't vote for Sanders if Sanders were the Presidential candidate for the Democrats.  Not one.  Why is there so much hatred towards Clinton?  She has been torn to shreds and vetted for her entire adult life.  No one has been more scrutinized than she.  I am an openly full-fledged Clinton supporter but in my wildest dreams would I not vote for the Democratic nominee.  Susan Sarandon has been disgraceful and vocal about her love for Sanders and her disdain for Clinton.  Makes me not want to support her career anymore.  Why does one need to be torn down to build the other up.  Californians make the time to vote tomorrow.  If you live in Santa Clara County, California, I urge you to read about the Judge that sentenced a white Stanford swimmer convicted rapist to 6 months because basically, he's suffered enough.  Really?  Wow, what about the victim, your Honor?!

Sidebars:  This past weekend we lost Muhammad Ali.  Coverage has been vast and will continue through his public service Friday.  What an incredible life and story.  I wonder how many young people under 30 understand his importance.  His is a story to be told and re-told.  -- The Golden State Warriors are up 2-0 against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals.  The Warriors really take the "I" out of team.  This is a group of vastly talented players that want to win and should be a lesson to young athletes and coaches.  They really are a team.  It's beautiful to watch. -- The Tonys are on Sunday, June 12th.  It should be one of the great telecasts in recent memory.  James Cordon is host.  The incomparable Barbra Streisand will be present for the first time in over 45 years. Hamilton will win everything in the musical categories except best Actress in a musical.  That should be handed to Cynthia Erivo for The Color Purple.  I hope everyone watches and it gets the best ratings in years.  --  The Bachelorette is on tonight, tomorrow, America's Got Talent, Wednesday, American Ninja Warrior and the 3rd NBA final game.  -- I again urge you to get tickets for The Color Purple if you live in NYC or coming to visit.  There are still tickets, many discounts, and the performances are nothing less than stellar.  

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